The Health Benefits of Chai - Is chai good for you?
- Chai contains healthy, plant based ingredients
- Chai can benefit digestion
- Chai is rich in antioxidants
- Chai can boost the immune system
- Chai may help with cancer prevention
- Tea and spices can benefit your relaxation time
- Chai may help to reduce wrinkles and fight acne
- Can a cup of chai help you to lose weight?
- Ingredients can be healthy for the brain
- It can help with a sore throat
- In a Chai Guys Masala Chai - Nutrition
- Frequently asked questions
Chai is a traditional Asian drink made by boiling tea with an aromatic blend of spices. Tracing back to ancient India, where it was consumed for its medicinal properties, the benefits of chai have been known and enjoyed for centuries, and the hot beverage has stood the test of time to act, not only as a remedy for digestive ailments, but as a symbol of hospitality and health.
Having first been conceived in ancient Indian royal courts, the delicious drink has more recently spread around the globe to be enjoyed in various forms, with the chai latte being a popular option in many western coffee shops. With the inclusion of powders and sugary flavoured syrups, these Chai lattes barely resemble a traditional Chai which contains freshly ground spices with wholesome loose leaf tea. This has led to a warped perception of what Chai is and whether it's healthy or not. Today, we demystify these assumptions and answer the question: is Chai good for you?
We will cover all the health benefits associated with the ingredients that go into different types of traditional Chai, hopefully delivering insight into why this drink should replace your weekly Chai latte.
10 Health Benefits of Chai
1. Chai contains healthy, plant based ingredients
Nutrition experts recommend eating at least 30 different plants per week as part of a healthy balanced lifestyle. A Chai Guys masala chai, all by itself, has 7 different ingredients, all of which are plant-based. Therefore, before diving into the nitty-gritty details of what the individual ingredients and spices can do to benefit your health, this fact alone makes chai a fantastic drink to enjoy every day as part of a healthy balanced lifestyle.
2. Chai can benefit digestion
Chai’s most unique components are not only its tastiest, but arguably provide the most health benefits. Spices like ginger, black pepper and cardamom have been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat digestive problems such as nausea, bloating, and constipation. These spices can help to stimulate the production of digestive enzymes and improve the motility of the digestive tract, which can help to reduce symptoms of indigestion. In particular, the ginger and cinnamon in chai can help to reduce inflammation in the gut, which can alleviate the digestive discomfort symptoms associated with such issues as gas and indigestion. Additionally to its spices, the black tea in chai contains compounds that can help regulate gut bacteria and promote healthy digestion.
Ginger can reduce inflammation
3. Chai is rich in antioxidants
The black tea used in chai, drawn from the camellia sinensis plant, contains antioxidants called polyphenols, which help to protect the body against damage from oxidising compounds called free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells and contribute to the development of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's. Black tea contains powerful groups of polyphenols including theaflavins and thearubigins, which provide protection against the onset of these chronic disorders.
Black tea is rich in antioxidants
The spices used in chai, such as ginger and cinnamon, also contain antioxidants that can help to reduce inflammation in the body. Cinnamomum verum, a species of evergreen tree native to Sri Lanka and the root from which cinnamon is made, has been shown in studies to be a powerful anti-inflammatory ingredient, containing a compound called E-cinnamaldehyde which is useful in treating age related inflammatory conditions such as cancer, diabetes and hypertension.
4. Chai can boost the immune system
Another health benefit of chai is that it can help to boost the immune system. The spices used in chai, such as cinnamon and ginger, have antimicrobial properties that can help to protect the body against infections. Cinnamon has been shown to have antimicrobial effects against several strains of bacteria, including those that can cause respiratory tract infections, while ginger has been found to have antimicrobial properties against a range of pathogens, including bacteria and viruses.
A recent study showed that the previously mentioned Cinnamomum verum’s effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can be beneficial in treatment of the SARS-CoV-2 infection, through the spices natural anti-obstructive functions against the accumulation of inflammatory cells which occurs in the respiratory tract during infection.
Black tea also contains compounds called catechins, which have been shown to have antiviral and antibacterial properties. A key component in tea, and therefore chai, the combinations of catechins and spices have been shown to help with numerous issues. For instance, research suggests that catechins may have anti-cancer properties. Studies have found that catechins can help to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and may help to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as breast, prostate, and lung cancer. Due to their strong anti-oxidising properties, black tea might help to prevent the development of various cancers by regulating oxidative damage. The above studies all indicate that drinking chai regularly can help to support the immune system and reduce the risk of infections, as well as having positive impacts on the rest of the body.
5. Chai may help with cancer prevention
The compounds in cardamom have also shown in studies to benefit the body through the same process, and similar to the polyphenols in black tea, cardamom can neutralise the free radicals that cause certain types of cancer. In a study in mice, cardamom powder was shown to increase the activity of certain key cancer-fighting enzymes. During the study, two groups of mice were exposed to a skin cancer causing compound, and one of the groups was given a daily dose of 500 mg of ground cardamom per kg (227 mg per pound) of body weight. After a period of 12 weeks, the results showed that only 29% of the group that consumed cardamom developed cancer, in contrast to over 90% of the control group.
6. Tea and spices can benefit your relaxation time
Chai can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation. The aroma of the spices used in chai, such as cardamom and cinnamon, can have a calming effect on the mind and body. Black tea contains the amino acid L-theanine, which has been demonstrated to have a calming impact on the nervous system without inducing sleepiness. Additionally, L-theanine has been found to mitigate the rise in blood pressure caused by caffeine and may also counteract stress-induced increases in blood pressure. Not only this, but L-theanine can also enhance sleep quality by inducing a more relaxed state in the brain, but by no means is it any kind of sedative. Drinking a warm cup of chai can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation, which can have a positive impact on overall health and wellbeing - at Chai Guys we like to say it warms our soul.
7. Chai may help to reduce wrinkles and fight acne
Chai contains properties excellent for improving circulation. Bad blood flow can lead to dry skin, acne and wrinkles, yet the antioxidants found in chai spices and the stimulant of caffeine in black tea can help to fight this, giving the skin a healthier appearance. As well as this, the high doses of vitamin C in cardamom can stimulate collagen production, which, if low, can lead to the earlier onset of wrinkles.
The ginger content in chai can also combat the effects of acne. Ginger’s powerful antioxidant properties can address inflammation of the skin, causing redness to lessen and fight off the bacteria that causes acne. There are around 30 chemicals in ginger which alleviate irritation and discomfort (such as zingibain, shogaols and gingerols). Therefore, ginger offers benefits beyond alleviating acne symptoms as it also combats the root cause of the condition. Acne is frequently associated with diets high in glucose and insulin, but ginger acts as a natural remedy by regulating these substances within your body. Moreover, ginger stimulates blood flow, which can help combat skin issues and promote overall health and well-being. A powerful root, ginger can not only treat acne but can help to stop it at the source.
As well as being rich in antioxidants, studies have shown that black tea found in chai contains compounds known as tannins which can also help to benefit skin complexion. The anti-inflammatory properties of these compounds can help to reduce redness, swelling, and soothe irritated skin, while black tea’s other antibacterial qualities may help regulate oil production in the skin, reducing the likelihood of breakouts relating to acne.
8. Can a cup of chai help you to lose weight?
Cinnamon is a spice historically treasured around the world for its medicinal use in treating a variety of ailments, and it is a key ingredient in the recipe for masala and kadak/karak chai. Recent studies have shown the spice can have a range of weight-loss benefits, including:
- Regulating Blood Sugar: Cinnamon can help to regulate blood sugar levels, which is important for weight loss. When blood sugar levels are stable, the body is less likely to store excess fat. Cinnamon contains compounds that can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce insulin resistance, which can help to lower blood sugar levels.
- Increases Metabolism: Cinnamon may also help to increase metabolism, which can help to promote weight loss. Studies have found that cinnamon can help to boost metabolism by increasing the activity of certain enzymes that are involved in metabolism.
- Reduces Inflammation: Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation is associated with obesity and several other health problems, so reducing inflammation can be beneficial for overall health and weight loss.
Cinnamon can help to lose weight
Numerous studies indicate that catechins have the potential to boost metabolism by increasing the body's rate of calorie burn, leading to weight loss even during periods of rest. Additionally, certain compounds present in the black tea used to prepare chai may promote the breakdown of fat and reduce the number of calories absorbed by the body from food. A 2016 study demonstrated that the polyphenols in black tea can inhibit lipid digestion and absorption, ultimately leading to a reduction in calorie intake. Furthermore, these compounds have been found to decrease oxidative stress, which can damage cells in the body by upsetting the balance between antioxidants and free radicals. Overall, the study revealed that the polyphenols in black tea had a positive impact on weight reduction.
The health befits of a masala chai can also help to suppress appetite and increase feelings of fullness. Chai is rich with nutrients that help to reduce hunger, which in turn prevent weight gain through eating. Ginger, a spice commonly used in chai, has also been shown to have appetite-suppressant effects. It works by increasing the production of the hormone leptin, which is responsible for regulating appetite. When leptin levels are high, the body is less likely to experience hunger or cravings, thereby making a cup of chai a perfect, healthy way to put an end to those post meal snacks.
9. Ingredients can be healthy for the brain
Chai is a great source of energy and can help improve mental clarity and focus. The black tea in chai contains caffeine, which is a natural stimulant that can improve alertness and focus. When consumed in moderation, caffeine can enhance cognitive function, improve reaction time, and increase attention span. Chai’s ayurvedic spices such as cardamom, cinnamon and ginger can help improve blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain. For example, cinnamon has been shown to improve memory and attention span, while ginger has also been shown to improve reaction time and working memory. Cinnamaldehyde, a compound present in cinnamon, has been demonstrated in studies to prevent the formation of amyloid-beta plaques in the brain, a critical indicator of Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, in a recent analysis comprising of 40 studies exploring the effects of cinnamon on cognitive function, researchers discovered that cinnamon substantially enhances performance, particularly with regards to learning and memory. Overall, a cup of chai is good for anyone looking to stay alert and focused throughout the day.
The aforementioned catechins found in black tea may also have a positive effect on brain health. Several studies have suggested that catechins can improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline, due to the presence of L-Theanine, which can increase alpha activity in the brain, resulting in an enriched focus. In a small study examining the impact of black tea on cognitive performance, individuals were assigned to consume either 250ml of black tea or water. Following consumption, they underwent tests assessing memory, sustained attention and mathematical calculations. The results showed that those who consumed black tea exhibited significantly faster cognitive task performance, improved memory, and made fewer errors compared to those who consumed water.
10. It can help with a sore throat
The spices typically found in a masala chai can provide many long term health benefits, but sometimes a simple remedy for a sore throat is all that's needed. Luckily, masala chai is good for you in short bursts as well as long ones! Being anti-inflammatory, spices such as ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom have been used in traditional recipes for centuries for soothing inflammation and reducing throat pain. In particular, cloves contain an antibacterial compound called eugenol which can boost immunity and alleviate pain, whilst its essential oil acts as a respiratory cleanser.
So those are our top 10 benefits of Chai. In short - Indian Chai is good for you! Want to know more? Find out more about our Chai products or buy chai today.
In a Chai Guys Masala Chai - Nutrition
635 kj/152 kcal
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Is chai good for you?
Chai is a delicious and healthy beverage that offers numerous health benefits, with its individual ingredients having aided the health of its consumers (both ancient and modern) for centuries upon centuries. In summary, the rich and powerful blend of spices, tea and milk which makes up a traditional chai has shown to help with:
- Improving digestion
- Reducing nausea
- Boosting the immune system
- Promoting relaxation
- Enhancing the skin
- Fighting inflammation
- Losing weight
- Boosting mental focus
- Easing a sore throat
Of course, chai is not a magic remedy for all ailments, and we always encourage people to read literature around these topics, but overall, chai can be a great choice for anyone looking to improve their overall health and well-being. So the next time you're looking for a tasty and healthy beverage, consider giving chai a try!
What are the ingredients in chai?
In a Chai Guys Masala Chai, the ingredients are:
- Fennel Seeds
- Black Peppercorn
- Black tea
- Whole Milk/ Oat milk
- Brown Sugar
How can I make chai at home?
To make chai at home, start with a blend of black tea and spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Add milk and sweetener to taste and simmer until fragrant. Or alternatively, you can purchase one of our masala chai, kadak chai or kesar chai tins, and follow our simple brewing instructions.
Is chai latte healthy?
Chai lattes, as opposed to authentic masala chai, can be highly processed as they are made with flavoured syrups and powders, meaning the more mass-produced varieties lack most of the health benefits found in authentic masala chai. A traditional masala chai and a chai latte are two very different hot beverages, despite having similar flavours and ingredients, such as cinnamon and milk, the quality of ingredients are not made equal either, and the brewing method also marks a key difference between a traditional chai and a chai latte.
Chai lattes can be prepared in a more traditional way, honouring the drink’s Indian roots, yet many chai latte’s are prepared artificially with chai powders and syrups that are not beneficial to one's health in the same way a traditional masala chai would be. The ingredients in a chai latte can vary depending on the recipe and the method of preparation. Here are some things to consider:
- Calories: A typical chai latte made with whole milk and sweetened with sugar or syrup can be high in calories. A 12-ounce serving can contain around 200-300 calories or more, depending on the recipe. Whereas authentic chai has around 160 calories for the same volume.
- Sugar content: Chai lattes made with sweeteners like sugar or syrup can be high in sugar. Some commercially-made chai lattes have been known to be as high as 70 grams of sugar per serving, whereas authentic chai usually contains under 10 grams of added sugar per serving, plus the naturally occurring sugars from the milk.
- Quality of ingredients: Not all ingredients are made equal. A traditional Chai that has been brewed fresh - including freshly ground spices that are boiled for a long time to extract all the goodness - does not compare to a sachet of spices and sugar (that make up a chai latte) which may have been ground and packaged months prior and include preservatives and thickening agents to make it easier to mix with milk to achieve that silky consistency.
Overall, whether a chai latte is healthy or not largely depends on the ingredients used and method of preparation. If prepared with fresh spice combinations, rather than highly processed powders or syrups, and without too much of an emphasis on milk and sugar, a chai latte can have many of the same health benefits as a traditional masala chai.
Is chai good for weight loss?
There is limited research on the effects of chai on weight loss, but some of its components, such as black tea and spices, have been associated with weight loss in studies.
Is chai safe for pregnant women to drink?
Chai contains caffeine, so pregnant women should limit their intake. It is recommended that pregnant women drink no more than 200mg of caffeine per day.
Can chai help with digestion?
Some of the spices in chai, such as ginger, have been shown to have digestive benefits.
How much chai can I drink in a day?
There is no standard limit on how much chai you can drink in a day, but it is recommended that you limit your caffeine intake to no more than 400mg per day.
What are some common spices used in chai?
Some common spices used in chai include cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and black pepper.
If you found this article useful, check out our delicious and soul warming Masala Chai, Kadak/Karak Chai and Kesar Chai blends.