Health Benefits Of Drinking Tea
What are the health benefits of drinking tea? Is drinking tea good for you? Do the different types of tea have the same benefits? Can you drink tea while pregnant? Let us check out the answers.
Numerous studies have been carried out proving the health benefits of drinking tea, long known by our ancestors as a healthy beverage. Tea, especially green tea, is shown to promote good health, protecting the heart against cardiovascular diseases, controlling high blood pressure, preventing dental cavities, boosting immune system, delaying aging, promoting weight loss, aiding digestion and may prevent cancer. There is evidence that green tea may help in preventing Alzheimer’s disease as well as mental degeneration.
Modern scientific studies confirmed tea has a very low caloric and fat content. Besides being rich in protein, vitamins and essential oils, tea leaves are a rich natural source of polyphenols with its antioxidant properties, that gives protection against disease and promoting good health. Among the better researched polyphenols include epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and catechin (C).
Let us take a closer look at the many health benefits of drinking tea.
Polyphenols, the main active ingredient in tea, is able to help in lessening the risk of strokes and heart attacks. It protects the blood vessels that flow to the heart and brain. The different types of tea contain varying amounts of flavonoids and polyphenols. Drinking tea is the best source of catechins, a class of flavonoids, in the human diet. Green tea has a higher amount of polyphenols compared to black tea due to the way they are processed. Green tea has minimal processing, thus resulting in a higher level of polyphenols and flavonoids with its antioxidant properties, followed by oolong tea and black tea. Drinking tea helps in lowering total cholesterol levels as well as blood pressure and prevents blood clots or thrombosis, benefiting the heart.
Studies conducted found that antioxidant function peaked within thirty minutes of drinking green tea and fifty minutes for the black tea. Green tea extract added to the drinking water of animals was found to have resulted in an increase of various antioxidant enzymes in their blood.
Laboratory research has shown green tea might help in reducing inflammation due to arthritis and help in slowing cartilage breakdown. The high content of polyphenols in tea gives it its anti-inflammatory properties. The duration of radiation-induced skin damage under-going radiotherapy, was found to be reduced among tea drinkers.
Experiments using green tea leaves on cancer cells have found that the leaves are rich in EGCG, a compound that is able to inhibit the enzyme that promotes the growth of cancer cells, besides being able to kill the cancer cells without harming the healthy cells. Studies done in China and Japan indicate that green tea may prevent oral cancers. Studies have also showed green tea may prevent skin cancers.
According to an article by the American Institute For Cancer Research, in laboratory studies, green tea has been shown to slow or completely prevent cancer development in colon, liver, breast and prostate cells. Other studies involving green tea have shown similar protective effects in tissues of the lung, skin and digestive tract.
According to Dr Mervat Kassem from the Faculty of Pharmacy at Alexandria University in Egypt, green tea enhanced the bacteria-killing activity of the antibiotics. “For example the killing effect of chloramphenicol was 99.99% better when taken with green tea than when taken on its own in some circumstances.” This means that taking antibiotics and drinking green tea together will have better end results.
Studies done in Japan has indicated that drinking tea, especially green tea, on a daily basis can help slow down memory failing in older adults. Japan is a nation famous for their healthy centenarians.
Green tea that has citrus added to it, is better able to protect the catechins from digestive degradation and thus has a better chance for peak absorption. Our body is able to absorb 80 percent of tea’s catechins if lemon juice was added to the tea.
Thus, drinking tea benefits us in many ways. But is drinking too much tea harmful?
Green tea side effects
Tea contains oxalate and in excess, can lead to kidney stones or it will bind with any free calcium in your body. However, oxalate found in tea has a low bioavailability and you have to drink a large amount of tea before kidney stones are formed.
Tea does contain theanine and caffeine but there is only one third of the caffeine in a cup of green tea compared to a cup of coffee. Limit to 2-3 cups of green tea before lunch so as not to to interrupt your sleep at night. Otherwise, you can steep the leaves in hot water for a minute, pour away this water and re-steep for another 3-5 minutes. This will help to decaffeinate your tea a bit.
Best Teas To Brew
For reaping the maximum tea benefits and flavor, drink loose leaf tea. Tea bags normally are packed with a lower grade tea. High quality tea is brewed using the tender tea leaves consisting of two leaves and a bud, which also happens to have 3 times the polyphenols content compared to older leaves. Whether drunk hot or cold, it does not affect the antioxidant content.
Can young children and pregnant women also reap the health benefits of drinking tea?
Infants, young children, those suffering from insomnia should avoid drinking tea. This is because of the caffeine content which may cause restlessness or having a good night’s sleep. Tea consumption for breastfeeding and pregnant women should be in limited amounts and try the decaffeinated tea instead. For the rest of us, experts recommend 3-4 cups of tea daily to reap the health benefits of drinking tea.