We get it: It’s hard to find a morning beverage as satisfying as coffee if you need to cut down on caffeine. I’m a black tea person myself, but my doctor recently recommended that I drink less of it, as the caffeine causes occasional heart palpitations.
Thus began a never-ending quest to find an enjoyable alternative. I’m not a big fan of herbal teas, and while I enjoy hot lemon water as much as the next person, the acidity isn’t great for my teeth or stomach. Then, a relative recommended that I try fruit teas. That’s when I developed a love for watermelon tea.
What is fruit tea, and what is watermelon fruit tea?
Never heard of watermelon tea? I hadn’t, either! Fruit teas are a whole sub-genre of tea that’s worth the exploration, if you’re curious. You simply steep dried fruit instead of dried leaves, though oftentimes, different products will include a blend of fruit and herbs. Fruit tea is usually packaged loose and therefore requires a strainer, but I think it’s worth the extra effort. As a side note, I use this stainless steel strainer to make steeping and cleaning incredibly easy (Buy from Amazon, $9.99).
Of all the fruit teas I’ve tried, watermelon tea became my morning pick because of its delicious smell and taste, and I love that pop of color. My favorite blend at the moment is Tiesta Tea’s Chunky Watermelon (Buy from Amazon, $7.95). It also contains tiny pieces of dried apple, carrot, and melon for extra flavor and nutrients.
The Potential Health Benefits of Watermelon Tea
Tiesta Tea claims that its Chunky Watermelon tea is an “immunity blend” that may help you recover from a mild illness, as the ingredients contain essential vitamins and nutrients. But does watermelon tea really have any health benefits?
According to the USDA, about one cup of fresh, diced watermelon contains:
- 43 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin A, or 6 percent of your daily value (DV)
- 12.3 milligrams of vitamin C, or 16 percent of your DV
- 170 milligrams (mg) of potassium, or 6.5 percent of your DV
While most of us know that vitamin A can improve our vision, this nutrient also has anti-inflammatory properties that plays a critical role in a healthy immune system. Vitamin C is another important nutrient because it helps improve both our innate immunity (the immune mechanisms we’ve had since birth) and our adaptive immunity (the functions our immune system has learned over the years in response to illness). And potassium, which is found in every cell in your body, is a type of electrolyte that can help your heartbeat stay regular.
In addition, watermelon contains an enzyme known as citrulline, which gets converted into arginine in the body. Arginine is an amino acid that greatly benefits the heart and circulatory system and helps maintain a strong immune system. It is also rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that may have a protective effect against certain cancers.
Does the tea have the same benefits as fresh watermelon?
It’s unclear whether watermelon tea has the same health benefits as fresh watermelon. The processing may reduce the amount (or potency) of certain nutrients. However, dried fruit often contains a higher concentration of certain nutrients, including vitamins, fiber, and minerals, when compared to fresh fruit.
Other nutrients, like vitamin C, do get significantly depleted during the drying process. And dried fruit is usually much higher in sugar. But when the sugar of dried fruit is diluted in a cup of tea, it’s not all that sugary.
The bottom line? More research needs to be done to determine the health benefits of watermelon tea. Still, it may be an excellent substitute for caffeinated beverages.
Keep in mind that you should always speak with your doctor if you are trying a new food or beverage, especially if that beverage could naturally lower your blood pressure. Drinking a tea that lowers your blood pressure (such as hibiscus tea) could enhance the effects of any heart medications you may be taking. This could in turn cause your blood pressure or heart rate to go too low.
As long as you get your doctor’s go-ahead, watermelon tea may be your next favorite drink! I know I’ll continue to enjoy a soothing cup with my breakfast each morning.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, First for Women.