You may enjoy the smell of fresh pine but may not have thought about the benefits of the needles made into a tea. These needles are rich in antioxidants and may improve heart health, reduce inflammation and offer protection against exercise-induced oxidation. Consult your doctor before adding pine needle tea to your diet.
Full of Antioxidants
Drinking a cup of pine needle tea may help up your intake of antioxidants. Pine needles are rich in a number of antioxidants, including vitamins A and C, as well as flavonoids. These vitamins and phytonutrients protect your cells from damage by substances referred to as free radicals, and this may help prevent various chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. You may benefit more when you get your antioxidants from natural sources rather than supplements, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Good for Your Heart
The flavorful tea may also offer benefits for your heart. Pine needles may be able to assist in the metabolism of lipids, according to a 2005 study published in the Journal of the Korean Society of Food Culture. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein, which is the bad cholesterol that causes the buildup of plaque along your artery walls. The evidence is preliminary, however, and based on animal studies. Clinical trials need to be conducted to determine benefits and recommendations.
As a drink rich in antioxidants, pine needle tea may help limit exercise-induced oxidative damage. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Exercise and Biochemistry investigated the effects of the antioxidant activity in a pine needle powder on rats fed a high-cholesterol diet while undergoing endurance exercise. The study found that the pine needle powder increased antioxidant activity in the rats under the extreme conditions and helped prevent cell death. It's important to note, however, that the powder may be a more concentrated source of nutrients than the tea.
Making Tea and Safety Concerns
To make your own pine needle tea, first wash your needles. Then cut off the ends and roll the needles in your hands to release the oil. Then place the needles in a cup of hot water and steep for 15 minutes. Strain and enjoy.
Pine trees are prevalent in the United States, but you shouldn't pick needles off of any tree. Off Grid Survival warns that you should not consume Yew, Norfolk Island Pine or Ponderous Pine needles because they are considered unsafe to eat or drink. If you're not sure which pine needles are safe, stick to other antioxidant-rich teas, like green or black tea, peppermint tea or chamomile tea, which you can buy already bagged.