Proven Health Benefits of Tea
Just like the tea parties children like to have with their fancy play tea sets, dolls and stuffed furry friends. Drinking tea not only satisfies thirst, but is steeped in ritual and social customs. But the remarkable health benefits of tea are what really captured our curiosity.
In the East, drinking tea has been seen as the key to good health, happiness and wisdom for thousands of years. In the West, tea time is a way to socialize, take a relaxing break and soothe the soul. But what about the health benefits of drinking tea? Scientists agree that the benefits of tea drinking are many, but only if you are actually drinking “tea”.
The Healthiest Tea
Real tea comes from a particular plant (Camellia sinensis) and includes only four varieties: green, black, white, and oolong. Anything else (such as herbal tea) is an infusion of a different plant and isn’t technically tea. The Camellia sinensis plant is a shrub native to China and India, and contains unique antioxidants called flavonoids. ECGC, the most potent of these antioxidants, is thought to combat free radicals that can contribute to cancer, heart disease, and clogged arteries.
All of these teas also have caffeine and theanine, which assist the brain and seem to heighten mental alertness. Studies have found that some teas may also help with diabetes, encourage weight loss, lower cholesterol, and fight microbes.
American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, LD, says “There doesn’t seem to be a downside to tea. I think it’s a great alternative to coffee drinking. First, tea has less caffeine. It’s pretty well established that the compounds in tea – their flavonoids – are good for the heart and may reduce cancer.”
Tea is a Brain Booster
A July 2013 LA Times article on tea’s health benefits quotes Diane McKay, an antioxidant researcher at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, who conducts research on tea’s health benefits: “There are few downsides to drinking tea. Both traditional teas (black and green) and herbal teas are made from plant-based products, which are good for you.”
The same LA Times article also points to a health benefit for the brain too. “Both green and black teas contain theanine, an amino acid that can help to improve attention and enhance the ability to learn and to remember,” says Andrea N. Giancoli, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Freshly Brewed Tea is Best
There are some questions about how long you need to steep your tea needs to get the most health benefit, and how much you need to drink; however, nutritionists agree any tea is good tea. To avoid extra calories and artificial sweeteners, and to get the full benefit of the flavonoids in tea, experts say you should choose freshly brewed teas over bottled and/or decaffeinated teas.
Cancer Fighter, Heart Helper
According to the October 2004 issue of Harvard Women’s Health Watch, some of the main health benefits of tea drinking are:
Reduced risk for many cancers, including, skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal, and bladder
Reduced risk for heart disease
Reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol, and increased HDL (good) cholesterol
Improved artery function
Reduced hypertension risk
- The health benefits of tea are numerous and still not fully explored. Meaning many of the benefits of drinking tea are undiscovered, one thing is for certain though. Tea is a remarkably beneficial beverage to enhance your health and sooth your soul.