Tea and Health

Although the U.S. Federal Drug Administration says it has found no conclusive evidence regarding the health benefits of tea, the individual compounds that make up tea are undisputed in their power to fight disease.

Tea’s benefits are largely due to its high flavonoid content. Flavonoids are plant-derived compounds that act as antioxidants. Green tea is the best food source of a group called catechins. In test tubes, catechins are more powerful than vitamins C and E in halting oxidative damage to cells and appear to have other disease-fighting properties. Studies have found an association between consuming green tea and a reduced risk for several cancers, including, skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal, and bladder.

Additional benefits for regular consumers of green and black teas include a reduced risk for heart disease. The antioxidants in green, black, and oolong teas can help block the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol and improve artery function. A Chinese study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed a 46%-65% reduction in hypertension risk in regular consumers of oolong or green tea, compared to non-consumers of tea.

The Harvard Women’s Health Watch suggests drinking a cup of tea several times a day to best absorb antioxidants and other healthful plant compounds. In green-tea drinking cultures, the usual amount is three cups per day, and allowing the tea to steep for three to five minutes brings out its catechins. The best way to get the catechins and other flavonoids in tea is to drink it freshly brewed.

Decaffeinated, bottled ready-to-drink tea preparations and instant teas have less of these compounds.

The compounds in tea can impede the absorption of iron from fruits and vegetables. Adding the juice of a lemon or milk to your cup, or drinking tea between meals helps to counteract this problem.

Source: The Harvard Women’s Health Watch, October 2004

Here are some of the notable benefits of brewed tea:

  • Antioxidants found in brewed tea may slow down the process of aging and help in cell repair and regeneration.
  • Brewed tea may be functional in reducing the risk of stroke and heart diseases.
  • Drinking brewed tea regularly may keep blood pressure normal and reduce the chance of hypertension.
  • Brewed green tea may have benefits in helping with the occurrence of diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes.
  • Tea in brewed form keeps the digestive system healthy
  • Brewed tea helps maintain good oral health
  • Ongoing research supports that drinking brewed tea, especially green tea, is useful in preventing gallstones and osteoporosis. It can also be beneficial for eye health.
  • Brewed tea can boost the body’s immune system

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