Health Benefits of Tea
Regarded for thousands of years in the East as a key to good health, happiness, and wisdom, tea has caught the attention of researchers in the West, who are discovering the many health benefits of different types of teas.
Studies have found that some teas may help with cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; encourage weight loss; lower cholesterol; and bring about mental alertness.
Tea is a name given to a lot of brews, but purists consider only green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, and pu-erh tea the real thing. They are all derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, a shrub native to China and India, and contain unique antioxidants called flavonoids. The most potent of these, known as ECGC, may help against free radicals that can contribute to cancer, heart disease, and clogged arteries.
All these teas also have caffeine and theanine, which affect the brain and seem to heighten mental alertness.
The more processed the tea leaves, usually the less polyphenol content. Polyphenols include flavonoids. Oolong and black teas are oxidized or fermented, so they have lower concentrations of polyphenols than green tea; but their antioxidizing power is still high.
Here are some listed health benefits
Some of the benefits to heart health that have been suggested by early studies include lowering LDL cholesterol and improving the ability of blood vessel lining to expand when blood flow increases. Some believe that tea might also help lower blood pressure.
Antioxidants may help to protect Immune System the L-theanine, an amino acid present in tea, may "prime" the immune system to help it fight infection, bacteria, viruses, and fungi. In addition, tea is rich in vitamins and minerals including B1, B2, B6, C, folic acid, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
Tea's amino acids may also help you gain a calmer, but more alert, mental state. The effect can last for 3 - 4 hours.
Early research suggests that some components of tea might help to reduce cancer risk. This is one of the most active areas of research currently.
Tea contains a natural fluoride, encouraging healthy tooth enamel, and the flavonoids in tea may slow the formation of plaque by bacteria in the mouth.
Tea has no calories and helps to hydrate the body. Substituting unsweetened tea for sugary drinks like soda can be a useful tool in maintaining a healthy weight. It is also thought that tea can help to boost metabolism. One should not, however, believe claims that "Wulong" tea is "weight-loss tea." "Wulong" is simply another word for "oolong" and it has not shown any more, or less, impact on weight loss.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that older women who were tea drinkers had higher bone mineral density (BMD) than non-tea drinkers.
Article from Times Magazine
Put down those saucer cups and get chugging — tea is officially awesome for your health. But before loading up on Red Zinger, make sure that your “tea” is actually tea. Real tea is derived from a particular plant (Camellia sinensis) and includes only four varieties: green, black, white, and oolong. Anything else (like herbal “tea”) is an infusion of a different plant and isn't technically tea.
But what real tea lacks in variety, it makes up for with some serious health benefits. Researchers attribute tea’s health properties to polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) and phytochemicals. Though most studies have focused on the better-known green and black teas, white and oolong also bring benefits to the table. Read on to find out why coffee’s little cousin rocks your health.
- Tea can boost exercise endurance. Scientists have found that the catechins (antioxidants) in green tea extract increase the body’s ability to burn fat as fuel, which accounts for improved muscle endurance.
- Drinking tea could help reduce the risk of heart attack. Tea might also help protect against cardiovascular and degenerative diseases.
- The antioxidants in tea might help protect against a boatload of cancers, including breast, colon, colorectal, skin, lung, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, liver, ovarian, prostate and oral cancers. But don’t rely solely on tea to keep a healthy body — tea is not a miracle cure, after all. While more studies than not suggest that tea has cancer-fighting benefits, the current research is mixed.
- Tea helps fight free radicals. Tea is high in oxygen radical absorbance capacity (“ORAC” to its friends), which is a fancy way of saying that it helps destroy free radicals (which can damage DNA) in the body. While our bodies are designed to fight free radicals on their own, they’re not 100 percent effective — and since damage from these radical oxygen ninjas has been linked to cancer, heart disease and neurological degeneration, we’ll take all the help we can get.
- Tea is hydrating to the body (even despite the caffeine!).
- Drinking tea is linked with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease. When considered with other factors like smoking, physical activity, age and body mass index, regular tea drinking was associated with a lowered risk of Parkinson’s disease in both men and women.
- Tea might provide protection from ultraviolet rays. We know it’s important to limit exposure to UV rays, and we all know what it’s like to feel the burn. The good news is that green tea may act as a back-up sunscreen.
- Tea could keep waist circumference in check. In one study, participants who regularly consumed hot tea had lower waist circumference and lower BMI than non-consuming participants. Scientists speculate that regular tea drinking lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome (which increases the risk of diabetes, artery disease and stroke), although it’s important to remember that correlation does not equal causation. Regular tea drinking might also counteract some of the negative effects of smoking and might even lessen the risk of lung cancer (good news, obviously, but not a justification for cigarettes).
- Tea could be beneficial to people with Type 2 diabetes. Studies suggest that compounds in green tea could helpdiabetics better process sugars.
- Tea can help the body recover from radiation. One study found that tea helped protect against cellular degeneration upon exposure to radiation, while another found that tea can help skin bounce back post exposure.
- Green tea has been found to improve bone mineral density and strength.
- Tea might be an effective agent in the prevention and treatment of neurological diseases, especially degenerative diseases (think Alzheimer’s). While many factors influence brain health, polyphenols in green tea may help maintain the parts of the brain that regulate learning and memory.