It has taken us Brits a while to down the English Breakfast tea and accept the joys, and health benefits, of other hot beverages. First there was a good proper coffee, hot water with lemon juice became a common way to start the day and forgoing the cows milk for a soy latte or almond milk flat white became common place. Now, after its success in places like the US and Australia, and of course in India, Chai is becoming a popular alternative to tea and especially coffee for the health conscious.
Marsala Chai, as it is known in India, is a traditional tea which is made up of herbs and spices. The exact recipe depends on the region and personal tastes but it tends to be a combination of black tea, cardamon, cinnamon, ginger, clove, star anise, fennel and black pepper. It is then served with milk and a sweetener such as honey or sugar to personal tastes. Modern slants also include ingredients like nutmeg and vanilla but regardless, Chai can offer some fabulous health benefits.
Can help prevent cancer
The antioxidants in black tea, cardamon, ginger and cinnamon help to keep cells healthy and inhibits cancer cell proliferation and studies have shown that they may help to prevent cancers in the first place. In fact black tea encourages cancer cell death through apoptosis and a British Journal of Nutrition study showed that whole ginger extract inhibited the growth and progression of prostate cancer cells in vitro and in vivo.
Many of the spices included in Chai help digestion which can be a great help if you suffer from bloating, nausea or gas.
Stop you getting sick
Giving your immune system a boost means that you will be less likely to come down with colds and flus or if you do, fight them off quickly. Ginger and cinnamon have immune boosting properties while star anise and fennel help sooth the throat.
Prevent onset of diabetes
The spices in Chai can help to balance blood sugar levels which in turn reduce the risk of late onset (type 2) diabetes. For those that already have type 2 diabetes it helps to reduce sugar cravings and keep insulin levels steady.
Help weight loss
A study last year in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that black pepper has a direct impact on fat storage and can help to fuel the breakdown of fat cells, helping you to lose weight. Cinnamon is also said to help you trim excess weight.
Pep you up
Need a helping hand to lift the blues and help you to see things more positively? Cardamon is a mood elevator while nutmeg can help to lower stress levels!
Improves the appearance of skin and hair
Black pepper stimulates blood flow to the skin while cloves improve circulation which helps your complexion as well as hair follicles therefore over time improving the appearance of both.