Here’s some great news about tea and health…it’s incredibly good for you. Not only is it refreshing, revitalising, rehydrating, uplifting and comforting but it’s also calorie free and can help to reduce body weight! However, there’s more to it than that…although tea drinking has been associated with health benefits for centuries, only in recent years has its medicinal properties been investigated scientifically.
Tea’s health benefits are largely due to its high content of flavonoids – plant derived compounds that are antioxidants. Tea is the best food source of a group called catechins. Test tube research has shown these to be more powerful than vitamins C and E in slowing down the gradual aging of our body cells helping to protect against age-related diseases such as heart disease, stroke and disorders like Parkinsons and Alzheimers. Recent Chinese research showed a 46%-65% reduction in hypertension risk in regular consumers of oolong or green tea, compared to non-consumers of tea. Catechins also help to reduce the risk of several types of cancer including skin, stomach, breast, lung, ovarian, colon, prostate and bladder. So, like fruit and vegetables, tea delivers these catechins into our bodies and can help keep us healthy. In fact one study into the power of tea’s antioxidants came to the conclusion that three cups of tea a day had the same antioxidant power as six apples!
Tea contains things that our bodies need – calcium, zinc, potassium, manganese, vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, folate, niacin and pantothenate. And there’s caffeine to keep us awake and help us concentrate. You don’t need to worry about the caffeine in tea making you jittery like coffee because tea also contains a secret weapon – an amino acid called L-theanine. L-theanine works with the caffeine and slows down the absorption rate into your central nervous system. And, more importantly, L-theanine has a calming effect on the brain by lowering the stress hormone cortisol. So tea is a natural de-stresser! That’s why tea has always been the chosen brew in Buddhist temples and monasteries – the monks find that they can stay awake through long sessions of prayer, chanting and meditation because they drink tea all day.
And some interesting facts about black tea…did you know that drinking 4 cups of black tea a day can reduce your chance of developing Type 2 diabetes by as much as 25%. Not only that but drinking it helps to reduce glucose tolerance and lower cholesterol.
And, because there’s also fluoride in tea (it’s in the fresh green leaves when they’re picked), the brew is really good at keeping your mouth and teeth healthy. The fluoride from your regular daily cuppa helps to strengthen the enamel on your teeth and makes them much more resistant to all the acids and sugars in your food which cause cavities and gum disease. It’s also thought that the tannins in tea have an anti-bacterial effect in the mouth and so slows down the build up of plaque on our teeth.
The good news just keeps on coming. So make sure you drink 4 cups of tea a day, or more, and get the benefit of all those healthy ingredients.