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An inflammation researcher shares the chai tea recipe that helped him stop using some pain medicines

Masala chai tea (left) and Dr. James Hébert (right).
Masala chai tea (left) and Dr. James Hébert (right).James Hébert/Anjelika Gretskaia/Getty Images
  • Dr. James Hébert has dedicated his career to studying how diet can affect inflammation in the body.

  • His work on inflammation inspired him to start drinking chai tea everyday.

  • Hébert's recipe is easy to make and full of spices, which are anti-inflammatory.

Dr. James Hébert, director of University of South Carolina's Cancer Prevention and Control Program, has spent decades of his career studying how diet can trigger or soothe chronic inflammation in the body.

He's also the inventor of the Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII), which scores foods on their inflammatory or anti-inflammatory effect.

Hébert's line of work has also shaped his own diet over the years. One of his favorite things to drink to soothe inflammation, he told Business Insider, is chai tea.

"The fact that I know a lot about inflammation informed my consuming this masala chai, which I now drink every single day," Hébert told Business Insider.

Hébert shared the chai tea recipe he makes, which is full of spices, including nutmeg, cardamon, ginger, cinnamon, and anise. "Spices are universally anti-inflammatory," Hébert said.

That's because spices contain antioxidants like phenolic compounds and flavonoids.

He credits the beverage for eliminating his need for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen, which can reduce inflammation. Hébert said he hasn't used NSAIDs since 2011.

Additionally, spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg can make the drink taste sweeter than it actually is, according to Hébert, making this a beverage that doesn't rely too heavily on added sweeteners.

Eating a diet high in sugar can lead to inflammation. Popular chai tea lattes from fast food chains can have 30 to 50 grams of sugar per 12-ounce servings .

Conversely, Hébert's recipe is sweetened with honey, and you can add as much or as little as you want.

Hébert's masala chai tea is flavorful, easy to make, and packs an anti-inflammatory punch.

Here's how to make it.

Ingredients:

To make one liter of chai, you will need:

  • 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves/ flakes

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

  • 1⁄4 teaspoon of ground cardamom

  • 1⁄4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

  • 1⁄8 teaspoon of ground coriander

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon of ground turmeric

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon of ground black pepper

  • 1⁄4 teaspoon whole (or ground) cloves

  • 2-3 tablespoons of grated fresh ginger

  • 2-3 tablespoons of honey

  • ¼ to ½ liter milk of choice

The ground black pepper is an essential ingredient, since black pepper makes curcumin, the anti-inflammatory compound in turmeric, more bioavailable according to Hébert.

Hébert said you can add other spices like anise, red or white pepper, vanilla, or anything else you think would enhance the flavor or anti-inflammatory capacity of the drink. You can also swap the fresh ginger for dried ginger, which is more potent — but Hébert said he doesn't think it tastes as good.

To make the drink, Hébert adds the tea, all the spices, and the fresh grated ginger into a large pot with one liter of boiling water. You can use two tea balls to hold the ingredients — one for the fresh ginger, and one for all the other spices and tea. Alternatively, you can just add all the ingredients to the water and strain them out afterwards.

Hébert lets everything steep together for 5 minutes. If you like, you can let the tea steep for longer, which will create a stronger flavor and more potent anti-inflammatory effect. Then add in the honey and milk.

Once ready, pour into a cup and enjoy.

The recipe makes about four 12-ounce servings. You can store any leftover tea in the fridge.

Read the original article on Business Insider