Tea and Good Health
When I was a child and not feeling well, my mother and grandmothers were always insistent that a cup of tea would go a long way to making me feel better. In fact, Tea has been associated with good health for centuries, especially in Eastern cultures. Today, western scientists are finding that early perception of tea’s healthfulness may have merit. Studies conducted with both black and green tea have yielded exciting results suggesting that natural compounds in tea may help to maintain good health. The major bioactive compounds in tea, called flavonoids, present in fruits and vegetables, but are found in especially high concentrations in tea. Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, Professor of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University states that, “The many bioactive compounds in tea appear to impact virtually every cell in the body to help improve health outcomes, which is why the consensus … is that drinking at least a cup of green, black, white or oolong tea a day can contribute significantly to the promotion of public health”.
According to the CDC, approximately 600,000 people die of heart disease in the US every year, making it the cause of one in every four deaths. There are many ways to help prevent the disease, including maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise. However, for years, research has suggested that tea drinking can be associated with improved cardiovascular health. Research has associated tea drinking with a reduced risk for hypertension, stroke and hardening of the arteries. Other studies have shown that tea may help support healthy blood flow and circulation by improving blood vessel function and helping to control blood clotting. Recent clinical and population studies have reinforced evidence of tea’s heart health benefits.
Some research suggests that tea drinking may be consistent with the lower risk of diabetes, which contributes to heart disease and stroke. Also, substances in tea may help to lower blood pressure or improve cholesterol.
One 10 year health study found an inverse correlation between drinking tea and the likelihood of suffering a stroke, whilst several studies suggest drinking calorie-free tea may aid weight management, helping people meet fluid requirements without the added calories of some other drink options.
Preliminary research suggests that tea flavonoids may help increase metabolism and fat oxidation and improve blood sugar control. Tea catechins (a type of flavonoid) may also provide modest shifts in metabolism that may promote weight loss and maintenance.
Japanese researchers found that in a 12-week, double-blind and placebo-controlled study, green tea catechins led to a reduction in body fat, blood pressure and LDL cholesterol compared to the control group. The authors suggest green tea catechins may help prevent obesity and reduce risk for cardiovascular disease. An exciting finding.
In other preliminary research it is suggested that tea may provide protection against various types of cancers, including digestive, skin, lung, prostate, breast, and ovarian cancers, but more evidence is needed before any definitive conclusions can be made.
Tea is a great way to give your body what it needs to feel refreshed and renewed. Tea has no calories but contains several health-promoting compounds such as antioxidants. The main players are chemicals called polyphenols, in particular catechins and epicatechins. “These are enriched in tea, especially green tea,” says Qi Sun, Associate Professor in the Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health.
Some of the best circumstantial evidence on tea and health has come from large, long-term studies of doctors and nurses based at the Harvard School of Public Health: the female Nurses’ Health Study and the male Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
By following these groups for long periods, researchers determined that tea drinkers are less likely over time to develop diabetes, compared with people who drink less tea. That makes sense, in light of research showing that polyphenols help regulate blood sugar (glucose).
The fermentation process used to make green tea boosts levels of polyphenols. Black and red teas have them, too, but in lesser amounts and types that are less strongly tied to improved health.
The polyphenols found in tea are important antioxidants, which scour the blood of ‘free radicals’ that have been linked to cancer and other diseases. These antioxidants latch on to and neutralize chemicals called oxidants, which cells make as they go about their normal business. Elevated levels of oxidants can cause harm—for example, by attacking artery walls and contributing to cardiovascular disease.
Tea also contains a surprising variety of nutrients. Among the former are vitamins such as thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin, biotin and inositol. Vitamin E is also present in tea. Tea is also rich in potassium although its content of sodium, a related metal associated with vascular disease when consumed in large quantities, is very low. This makes tea ideal for people suffering from high blood pressure. Tea also contains calcium, zinc and manganese.
In addition to these nutrients, tea-drinking promotes dental health because of the fluoride it contains. Fluoride can also help support bone mineralization.
Recent studies referred to by the Tea council of USA have associated two compounds in tea, L-theanine and caffeine, with cognitive health benefits. The amino acid L-theanine has been shown to directly affect areas of the brain that control attention and the ability to solve complex problems. Other studies have shown that drinking tea may improve mental clarity, mood and work performance. Consuming black tea improved attention and self-reported alertness, according to a study from the Netherlands. Two other studies show benefits for tiredness, self-reported work performance, mood and creative problem solving.
Unlike coffee, tea is available in countless variations and flavor profiles, each affording a distinctly pleasurable experience. Since tea itself has no calories, it’s a healthy way to treat yourself to an indulgent, flavorful experience without the guilt. There are even natural, calorie-free options when it comes to sweetening your cup.
From calorie-free, organic green and black teas to exotic flavors such as 1001 Nights and herbal infusions of Chamomile or Anise, Tea4usa carries a myriad of options to pamper your body and help you focus on your specific needs. Sweet-tart Hibiscus iced tea, for example, is the perfect addition to a heart-healthy diet.
However, you don’t have to merely drink black tea to benefit from its healthy properties. It can be steamed, cooled and then pressed on minor cuts, scrapes and bruises to relieve pain and reduce swelling. A black tea bath can also ease inflammation caused by skin rashes and conditions such as poison ivy.
While a majority of teas are beneficial for your health, you may want to steer clear of these varieties:
- Detox teas made for fad diets that suggest you will quickly lose weight. These teas often come laced with laxatives that can be harmful to your health.
- Fancy tea lattes and drinks from your favorite chain store. While some of these drinks, such as a green tea latte, may appear healthy, they are loaded with sugar.
- Trendy bubble teas that are also loaded with sugar, calories and carbs, and have little to no nutritional value.
- Herbal teas that may potentially trigger allergies. Many herbal teas contain different types of fruits, herbs, spices and flowers that some people are allergic to. If you have allergies, always read the ingredients on the package before you consume a new herbal tea.
With the few exceptions listed above it seems like there really s no reason not to, and plenty of evidence supporting the addition of more tea in your daily diet. Let’s discover your new favorite brew.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.