An Expert Guide to the Many Health Benefits of Drinking Tea
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The tradition of drinking tea is thousands of years old in many parts of the world. Even in America there is an ever increasing tea drinking trend. The Tea Association of the USA, Inc. reports tea can be found in 80 percent of U.S. households. There are many varieties of teas, but all “true” teas come from the Camellia sinensis plant. The only difference in the types of tea is the amount of processing and oxidation they undergo. The most popular varieties are black, green and white teas. Most research involves green and black teas. There are many options depending on your preference. Teas are not only refreshing, but have years of research supporting their health benefits. Let’s take a closer look.
Many people feel that having a cup of tea relaxes them. Is this true or is there a cultural or psychological component to this belief? There may be many reasons why people feel this way, but there is actual research from The University College of London that supports this idea. They tested levels of the stress hormone cortisol in two groups of subjects. One group was given a tea-like placebo and the other was given black tea four times a day. They were all put under similar stressful conditions. The cortisol level in the tea drinkers was much lower than in the non-tea drinkers.
Tip: Most studies have found that tea must be steeped to reap many of its benefits. Steep green tea at 180 degrees and black tea in boiling water for best results.
Although there are other theories, the improved dental health of many tea drinkers may be related to fluoride in the actual tea plant. Also, it may come from the fluoridated water used to make the tea.
Tip: Brew tea with tap water to get the full benefit of the fluoride.
Obesity and Cardiovascular Health
One study found that hot tea drinkers were less likely to be obese. They had a lower average waist circumference and a lower body mass index. Tea drinkers were also found to have higher HDL (good cholesterol), lower triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood) and lower C-reactive protein levels (an indicator of inflammation). Additional research has shown that l-theanine, an amino acid found in tea, may improve heart health and reduce risk of stroke.
Tip: If you prefer iced tea, brew tea bags or loose tea with hot water—then allow it to cool and pour over ice.
The antioxidant compounds from polyphenols are thought to protect against certain cancers. Polyphenols are found in high concentrations in green tea. A recent review of cancer prevention studies associated with tea discovered that although a lot of the research looks promising, more studies are needed.
Tip: Add frozen berries to your iced tea to maximize your antioxidant intake.
While all of the science may not be conclusive, we know enough to say that tea is a great option when choosing a beverage. Also keep in mind that unsweetened tea is always a better choice than a sugary drink and is easier on the wallet, too!
Article provided by Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.
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