Thirsty? You might want to consider a steaming cup of tea. In a survey of existing research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the authors report that not only does tea rehydrate and quench your thirst as well as water does, it comes with additional health benefits too.
“Drinking tea is actually better for you than drinking water,” Dr. Carrie Ruxton, a nutritionist and the lead author of the study told the BBC. “Water is essentially replacing fluid. Tea replaces fluids and contains antioxidants so it’s got two things going for it.” (More on Time.com: See the top 10 bad beverage ideas)
Those antioxidants — specifically flavanoids — can reduce damage done to cells through everyday living, so researchers believe these same compounds may help to ward off heart attacks and some types of cancer. Reported the BBC:
They found clear evidence that drinking three to four cups of tea a day can cut the chances of having a heart attack.
Some studies suggested tea consumption protected against cancer, although this effect was less clear-cut.
Other health benefits seen included protection against tooth plaque and potentially tooth decay, plus bone strengthening.
The researchers also addressed a myth about tea’s dehydrating effects. Although caffeine does remove water from your system, even a strong cup of tea — or coffee, for that matter — is introducing more water to your body than it may remove. (More on Time.com: Still Hungover? How To Tell if Your Drinking Is Really a Problem)
The British Nutrition Foundation recommends about 1.5 to 2 liters or about eight and a half cups of liquid a day, and the study showed that one to six tea drinks a day, including black tea, improved antioxidant intake. However, there is some evidence that tea can prevent the iron absorption from food, so those at risk for anemia should avoid a mug near mealtime.