Tea: It Does the Body Good
Studies that support the health benefits of tea drinking keep filling the headlines. There’s simply no denying that a daily spot of tea does the body good.
What Makes Tea Good for the Body?
Tea contains high levels of antioxidants, some of which are called polyphenols, flavonoids, and catechins, and all of which take on the “free radicals” in the body and prevent them from harming the healthy cells on board.
In other words, sending in antioxidants is disease prevention in its finest form. Antioxidants are ready and waiting not only in teas but also in several fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats, and even wines (see my health benefits of wine article).
If that were not enough, tea also contains flouride which benefits your teeth and has bacteria killing properties which helps control bad breath and the formation of plaque.
Are All Teas Equally Good for the Body?
This is a question researchers are still squabbling over. Does green tea have more antioxidants than black tea? Should I drink instant tea or loose leaf tea for better health benefits? Is hot tea better than iced tea? And here’s what it comes down to:
• Higher quality teas may have more catechin antioxidants than lower quality teas.
• White tea has more antioxidants than any other tea.
• Green tea has more catechin antioxidants than black tea since black tea goes through more processing.
• Unfermented rooibos tea has more polyphenol antioxidants than fermented rooibos.
• Freshly brewed teas have more polyphenol antioxidants than instant or bottled teas.
• More researchers seem to agree that brewed (cold or hot) or caffeinated tea has more antioxidants than instant teas.
Here’s a short preview of the hundreds of recent studies that boast the health benefits of tea and its antioxidants:
• Study finds tea drinkers have lower blood pressure (Archives of Internal Medicine, 2004).
• Tea may lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease (Journal of Nutrition, 2003).
• Black tea may lower “bad” cholesterol (United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, 2003).
• Tea consumption may help heart disease patients (Circulation: The Journal of the American Heart Association, 2001).
• Green tea could help stem esophageal cancer. (Harvard Medical School, 2004).
• Green and black tea can slow down the spread of prostate cancer (Center for Human Nutrition at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, 2004).
• Tea may protect against cancer caused by smoking. (Journal of Nutrition, 2003).
• Green tea and white tea fight colon cancer (Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University study, Carcinogenesis, 2003).
• Hot tea may lower risk of some skin cancers (University of Arizona study, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention (Vol. 9, No. 7), 2001).
• Green tea consumption may lower stomach cancer risk (University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Public Health study, International Journal of Cancer (Vol. 92: 600-604), 2001).
• Green and oolong teas reduce risk of hypertension (National Cheng Kung University study, Archives of Internal Medicine, 2004).
• Tea believed to boost the body’s defenses (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2003)
• A green tea component helps kill leukemia cells (Mayo Clinic, 2004).
• Drinking tea might delay Alzheimer’s Disease (Newcastle University’s Medicinal Plant Research Centre study, Phytotherapy Research, 2004).
• Tea may play a role as an AIDS fighter (University of Tokyo, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2003).
So how do you get started in doing your body some good with tea?
To get the most health benefits out of your teas, choose high-quality loose leaf teas from your local or online tea shop. Brew it up and enjoy. And of course, don’t throw out the idea of enjoying instant or bottled teas when you’re on the go. You just might have to drink a little more.
Don’t wait any longer. Sip, savor, and fight disease today. It’s never too late to enjoy the many health benefits of tea!