There are some undeniable emotional benefits that come with curling up to a cup of tea (instant relaxation, anyone?). But the physical benefits go way, way beyond that—from disease prevention to UV ray protection, coffee's cousin can do it all.

The only caveat? Not everything you think of as tea is technically tea. True tea comes from the plant Camellia sinensis (think green, black, white, and oolong), which is what we'll be talking about below. Anything else (like herbal) is technically from a different plant and isn't really tea—but can still contain antioxidants and other health benefits.

Why Tea Is Awesome (and Healthy)

1. Tea can boost endurance.

Scientists found that the catechins (a.k.a. antioxidants) in green tea extract , which leads to . Basically, your workout just got a whole lot easier.

2. It might reduce your risk of heart attack.

If you're a heavy black tea drinker (we're talking three cups or more per day), than someone who drinks tea less. In the same vein (pun obviously intended), there's also tea can .

3. It might help prevent cancer

Actually, a lot of cancers. Studies show tea can reduce the risk of , , , , , , , , , , , , and cancers. But it's not a miracle drink—research is mixed, so don't rely on tea alone.

4. Tea helps fight free radicals.

("ORAC" to its friends), which is a complicated way of saying tea helps destroy free radicals (which can damage DNA) in the body. While bodies are designed to fight free radicals on their own, they're not 100 percent effective. And since damage from free radicals has been linked to cancer, heart disease, and neurological degeneration, we'll take all the help we can get.

5. Tea is hydrating.

Yep, .

6. Drinking tea can lower the risk of Parkinson's disease.

After adjusting for known variables (like age, BMI, blood pressure, and more), found that drinking tea (and coffee, for what it's worth) lowers our risk of Parkinson's.

7. It can protect you from UV rays.

Weird but true: and save you from nasty sunburns. Green tea extract has to be applied topically, though—in this case, just drinking it won't cut it.

8. Regularly drinking tea can help with weight loss.

In one study, participants who regularly consumed hot tea than non-consuming participants. Scientists speculate it's because regular tea drinking lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome.

9. It might counteract some of the negative effects of smoking.

It's not an excuse to go hard on cigarettes, but research shows (8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine, if you're curious) in smokers' urine and plasma. That change suggests tea might protect smokers from cancers, diseases, and other damages associated with smoking.

10. It can help people with Type II diabetes.

Studies found the compounds in green tea may better process sugar, among other benefits.

11. It can help the body recover from radiation.

One study found tea helped upon exposure to radiation, while another found that tea might .

12. Tea strengthens your bones.

More specifically, green tea increases bone mineral density and strength. That means osteoporosis—and all the fractures, pain, and posture problems that comes with it—is further off.

13. Tea might prevent (and treat) neurological diseases.

Tea may play a part in preventing degenerative diseases (think Alzheimer's), especially. How? The polyphenols in the parts of the brain that regulate learning and memory.

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