Drink to Your Health With Tea

Herbal Tea

Everyone loves a soothing cup of tea. Our friends across the pond in England drink more tea than anyone. However, Americans now boast second place in global consumption, brewing enough tea to fill 160,000 swimming pools each year. Perhaps the beverage is so popular because scientists have discovered that tea can do more than fight the chill of a cold winter’s night. In fact, tea may help to ward off heart disease as well as several types of cancer.

Tea, which is derived exclusively from the Camellia sinensis plant, contains an abundance of bioflavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants. Of particular interest to researchers is a group of flavonoids called catechins, the most significant of which is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).

What’s all the excitement over catechins? Well, for starters, they inhibit the production of peroxides and free radicals, which are responsible for damaging cellular material, including DNA and RNA. Some studies suggest that these agents provide more antioxidant activity than broccoli, carrots, and--ready for this?--up to 200 times more than vitamin E.

The catechin content varies between teas because they are processed differently. The most popular tea, pekoe or orange pekoe (commonly known as black tea), contains more of the secondary flavonoids theaflavin and thearubigin because the leaves are allowed to ferment before drying, which promotes the oxidation of catechins. Green tea undergoes a special steaming process without fermentation, which prevents oxidation from taking place. White tea is the least processed, meaning that it contains the highest concentration of preserved catechins than all other teas.

Researchers have been studying the health benefits of tea for the last 30 years. Here’s a brief summary of what they’ve found:

  • Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have discovered that EGCG inhibits the proliferation of cancer cells in the prostate, thereby preventing tumor formation. Other studies have shown that EGCG shrinks the size of existing tumors. Additional studies indicate that tea catechins may also help to prevent various other forms of cancer, including lung, colon, stomach, esophagus, and skin cancer.
  • EGCG, as well as other catechin polyphenols, reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels, the “bad” kind of cholesterol that contributes to the formation of arterial plaque. EGCG has also demonstrated an ability to reduce blood pressure.
  • British researchers recently published the results of two studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which reported that green tea increases fat and carbohydrate oxidation when combined with just 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day.

bviously, there more to be read into tea leaves than the ability to predict the future. In fact, developing a love for tipping the cup may go a long way toward protecting your future health. Just a single cup can deliver 40 to 90 milligrams of these antioxidants. But, why stop there? In addition to adhering to a low-fat diet and regular exercise, the research suggests that drinking about five cups of tea every day may be enough to help prevent cancer and heart disease. As an added bonus, tea may help you to shed a few pounds, too.

Green Teas

Black Teas

Herbal Teas