Tea, one of the world’s most loved and consumed beverages not restricted to country or religion, enjoys results from a plethora of research showing that it’s very good for health. Authentic tea comes from the plant Camellia sinensis and comprises 4 main varieties, all of which have health benefits:
- Green tea
- Black tea
- White tea
- Oolong tea.
Herbal tea infusions aren’t to be confused with the real teas, as the additional ingredient of another plant (e.g. ginger, cranberry, chamomile, etc.) makes the brew technically not a pure tea.
There are 10 major health benefits of drinking tea:
1) It’s a powerful antioxidant
All teas originating from the camellia tea plant are full of a particular type of antioxidant called a polyphenol which, through detoxification, helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. The polyphenol level in tea is estimated to be about 10 times that found in fruit and vegetables. Tea has other antioxidants known as catechins, thearubigins and epicatechins, which are all flavonoids – a specific kind of antioxidant. Brewed tea is full of flavonoids and research has shown that they help prevent not only DNA damage from toxic chemicals that enter our bodies through smoking, drinking, and poor diet but also help prevent heart disease and cancer. This is evidenced in countries such as China and Japan, which are massive tea drinkers and which have fewer instances of these 2 killer diseases.
2) Boosts energy
Tea has been shown in studies to boost energy and help with endurance sports and exercise. The antioxidants in tea have the ability to boost the body’s metabolism, increasing its capacity to burn fat as a source of fuel. This also helps to curb hunger and maintain a healthy weight, which has all sorts of knock-on health benefits like a healthy heart and vital organs. Tea also has an active compound known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG, which is a phytochemical (more precisely a polyphenol) linked to natural weight loss. A Japanese study found that those who consumed for 12 weeks a daily 690mg of the antioxidant group known as catechins found in tea had a significantly lower body mass index with narrower waists than those who didn’t consume these levels.
3) Contains caffeine
Tea contains small amounts of the stimulant caffeine but is much less likely to disrupt a good night’s sleep than coffee as it contains far less.
4) Assists hydration
It’s critical to keep the body hydrated and tea is just as effective as water for this. The human body is about 60% water and so needs an intake of around 2 litres of water daily to function healthily. This can be achieved as easily by drinking tea as by drinking water.
5) Lowers Parkinson’s risk
The polyphenols in tea has, in official studies, been linked to a decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease. Green tea is good for this but white tea contains a greater number of polyphenols, crucial in protecting the brain from oxidative stress and resulting cell damage.
Parkinson’s disease causes brain neurons to die off over time, affecting the balance of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is an essential brain chemical that regulates many different body functions including mood and muscle stability. Polyphenols in tea are thought to help by directly protecting these neurons from dying off either by slowing the rate at which this occurs or by preventing it altogether.
6) Protects the skin
Tea is believed to help protect the skin from the harmful damage caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Both green and black teas begin their life as leafy greens (that are also beneficial to health) and, again, it’s the polyphenol content that does this by limiting the blood supply to cancerous areas and by promoting the DNA repair process in the body. An individual study found that those drinking at least one cup of tea a day had lower incidences of melanoma.
7) Type 2 diabetes
The polyphenols present in tea, and their anti-oxidative properties, help protect the body against type 2 diabetes. A study showed that 3 cups of tea a day had the ability to cut this risk by approximately 40% as the polyphenols help the body process sugar more effectively.
Tea helps the body to recover from exposure to dangerous levels of radiation too. A particular study found that tea’s antioxidant properties could protect against cellular degeneration resulting from exposure to radiation. Radiation damage to the body’s cells occur for a variety of reasons, such as cancer treatments or exposure through x-rays or even nuclear exposure. Radiation exposure has unpleasant symptoms such as hair loss, nausea, a low white blood cells count, fatigue and complications affecting the nervous system. One of the recommended alternative treatments for such symptoms is to take green tea standardised extract at a daily dose of between 250mg – 500mg.
9) Bone strength
Green tea has been studied and found to improve bone strength and bone mineral density because it contains bioactive ingredients that help protect against the onset of osteoporosis. The beneficial effects are derived by the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect on the various bone cells. Also, these beneficial effects on bone density show that green tea is a very effective dietary supplement with the power to suppress bone mass density loss.
10) Neurological diseases
Tea is thought to be an effective method of preventing and/or treating neurological diseases, especially those of a degenerative nature such as Alzheimer’s. The polyphenols in tea help to preserve and nurture the areas of the brain that regulate memory and learning. There’s emerging evidence to suggest that the key ingredients of tea promote a general positive mental state and a healthy central nervous system. Tea also contains a potent amino acid known as L-theanine that has a direct influence on brain function and is thought to significantly promote relaxation without causing sleepiness.
With so many health benefits to drinking tea, it makes sense to start to enjoy this amazing beverage, if not already doing so. It’s best drunk without milk and not too hot, to avoid damage to the oesophagus.
Vanessa Tutzke is an editor at couporando.co.uk and specialized in saving and health tips. Her favourite drink is tea.