Top 10 Health Benefits of Drinking Tea
1. Tea contains antioxidants. Like the Rust-Oleum paint that keeps your outdoor furniture from rusting, tea's antioxidants protect your body from the ravages of aging and the effects of pollution.
2. Tea has less caffeine than coffee. Coffee usually has two to three times the caffeine of tea (unless you're a fan of Morning Thunder, which combines caffeine with mate, an herb that acts like caffeine in our body). An eight-ounce cup of coffee contains around 135 mg caffeine; tea contains only 30 to 40 mg per cup. If drinking coffee gives you the jitters, causes indigestion or headaches or interferes with sleep -- switch to tea.
3. Tea may reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. Unwanted blood clots formed from cholesterol and blood platelets cause heart attack and stroke. Drinking tea may help keep your arteries smooth and clog-free, the same way a drain keeps your bathroom pipes clear. A 5.6-year study from the Netherlands found a 70 percent lower risk of fatal heart attack in people who drank at least two to three cups of black tea daily compared to non-tea drinkers.
4. Tea protects your bones. It's not just the milk added to tea that builds strong bones. One study that compared tea drinkers with non-drinkers, found that people who drank tea for 10 or more years had the strongest bones, even after adjusting for age, body weight, exercise, smoking and other risk factors. The authors suggest that this may be the work of tea's many beneficial phytochemicals.
5. Tea gives you a sweet smile. One look at the grimy grin of Austin Powers and you may not think drinking tea is good for your teeth, but think again. It's the sugar added to it that's likely to blame for England's bad dental record. Tea itself actually contains fluoride and tannins that may keep plaque at bay. So add unsweetened tea drinking to your daily dental routine of brushing and flossing for healthier teeth and gums.
6. Tea bolsters your immune defenses. Drinking tea may help your body's immune system fight off infection. When 21 volunteers drank either five cups of tea or coffee each day for four weeks, researchers saw higher immune system activity in the blood of the tea drinkers.
7. Tea protects against cancer. Thank the polyphenols, the antioxidants found in tea, once again for their cancer-fighting effects. While the overall research is inconclusive, there are enough studies that show the potential protective effects of drinking tea to make adding tea to your list of daily beverages.
8. Tea helps keep you hydrated. Caffeinated beverages, including tea, used to be on the list of beverages that didn't contribute to our daily fluid needs. Since caffeine is a diuretic and makes us pee more, the thought was that caffeinated beverages couldn't contribute to our overall fluid requirement. However, recent research has shown that the caffeine really doesn't matter -- tea and other caffeinated beverages definitely contribute to our fluid needs. The only time the caffeine becomes a problem as far as fluid is concerned is when you drink more than five or six cups of a caffeinated beverage at one time.
9. Tea is calorie-free. Tea doesn't have any calories, unless you add sweetener or milk. Consuming even 250 fewer calories per day can result in losing one pound per week. If you're looking for a satisfying, calorie-free beverage, tea is a top choice.
10. Tea increases your metabolism. Lots of people complain about a slow metabolic rate and their inability to lose weight. Green tea has been shown to actually increase metabolic rate so that you can burn 70 to 80 additional calories by drinking just five cups of green tea per day. Over a year's time you could lose eight pounds just by drinking green tea. Of course, taking a 15-minute walk every day will also burn calories.
1. Which tea is better -- green, black, white?
2. Are decaffeinated teas just as good for you?
3. How do you brew a perfect cup of tea?
Your choice is here (click here)
: Be wary of medical claims made for herbal teas. Traditional herbal teas from major makers are usually safe, but don't expect them to keep you healthy
Teas Goes Strong
Green tea has taken on almost mythic proportions as a promoter of health and fighter of disease. You can even buy soaps and lotions and breakfast cereals containing green tea extracts. Whether these do you any good is open to question. And, indeed, whether green tea itself will prevent cancer or heart disease is also open to question. But there's no doubt green tea is a healthful drink, containing antioxidants as well as fluoride, in addition to the natural caffeine that occurs in the leaf (a plus for most people).
And now regular
black tea--which constitutes 78% of all tea produced and consumed worldwide--is
turning out to be just as healthful as green. Chemically it's different,
but it has its own potential benefits to offer. We are not talking about
herbal teas here, but only the leaf of Camellia sinensis, from which
all tea comes. In the making of green tea, the leaves are steamed, rolled,
and dried to keep them from oxidizing (turning black). Black teas are
dried, crushed, and "fermented"--in this context the word
means oxidized or blackened; no alcohol is involved. Red, or oolong,
teas are also fermented, but not as a fully.
It's true that the fermentation process alters some of the chemicals in green teas, turning certain polyphenols (a category known as catechins) into a related form called theaflavins. These contribute to the taste and orange color of black teas. And--again, in lab tests--these theaflavins show the same antioxidant power as the flavonoids in green tea. With black tea, as with green tea, results in the lab have been encouraging, suggesting potential protection against cancer and heart disease and even cataracts and arthritis. And some clinical trials with humans have also had positive results: in one, black tea helped restore arterial function in patients with atherosclerosis. And a study of Dutch men found that those who consumed the most tea were the least likely to die of a heart attack. But some other tests with humans found no benefits from drinking tea.
* A cup of tea
can be a pleasure any time of day, as well as the basis of sociability
or even ceremony.
UC Berkeley Wellness
Updated January 2004
To learn more about teas (Click here)
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The information presented is for information purposes only. It is based
on scientific studies or traditional usage. Consult a health care professional
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