Tea ‘healthier’ drink than water
Drinking three or more cups of tea a day is as good for you as drinking plenty of water and may even have extra health benefits, say researchers.
The work in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition dispels the common belief that tea dehydrates.
Tea not only rehydrates as well as water does, but it can also protect against heart disease and some cancers, UK nutritionists found.
Experts believe flavonoids are the key ingredient in tea that promote health.
These polyphenol antioxidants are found in many foods and plants, including tea leaves, and have been shown to help prevent cell damage.
Public health nutritionist Dr Carrie Ruxton, and colleagues at Kings College London, looked at published studies on the health effects of tea consumption.
They found clear evidence that drinking three to four cups of tea a day can cut the chances of having a heart attack.
Some studies suggested tea consumption protected against cancer, although this effect was less clear-cut.
Other health benefits seen included protection against tooth plaque and potentially tooth decay, plus bone strengthening.
Dr Ruxton said: “Drinking tea is actually better for you than drinking water. Water is essentially replacing fluid. Tea replaces fluids and contains antioxidants so it’s got two things going for it.”
She said it was an urban myth that tea is dehydrating.
“Studies on caffeine have found very high doses dehydrate and everyone assumes that caffeine-containing beverages dehydrate. But even if you had a really, really strong cup of tea or coffee, which is quite hard to make, you would still have a net gain of fluid.
“Also, a cup of tea contains fluoride, which is good for the teeth,” she added.
There was no evidence that tea consumption was harmful to health. However, research suggests that tea can impair the body’s ability to absorb iron from food, meaning people at risk of anaemia should avoid drinking tea around mealtimes.
Dr Ruxton’s team found average tea consumption was just under three cups per day.
She said the increasing popularity of soft drinks meant many people were not drinking as much tea as before.
“Tea drinking is most common in older people, the 40 plus age range. In older people, tea sometimes made up about 70% of fluid intake so it is a really important contributor,” she said.
Claire Williamson of the British Nutrition Foundation said: “Studies in the laboratory have shown potential health benefits.
“The evidence in humans is not as strong and more studies need to be done. But there are definite potential health benefits from the polyphenols in terms of reducing the risk of diseases such as heart disease and cancers.
“In terms of fluid intake, we recommend 1.5-2 litres per day and that can include tea. Tea is not dehydrating. It is a healthy drink.”
The Tea Council provided funding for the work. Dr Ruxton stressed that the work was independent.
Tea is not dehydrating. It is a healthy drink -Claire Williamson of the British Nutrition Foundation
Tea replaces fluids and contains antioxidants so its got two things going for it -Lead author Dr Ruxton
There are lots of reasons why I enjoy a hot cup of tea: I love the aroma of various flavors of tea; holding onto a hot tea mug warms my hands on a cold winter morning; sipping tea in front of the fireplace is a great way to relax. And those are just the feel-good reasons. If you’re not drinking tea yet, read up on these 10 ways tea does your body good and then see if you’re ready to change your Starbucks order!
1. Tea contains antioxidants. Like the Rust-Oleum paint that keeps your outdoor furniture from rusting, tea’s antioxidants protect your body from the ravages of aging and the effects of pollution.
2. Tea has less caffeine than coffee. Coffee usually has two to three times the caffeine of tea (unless you’re a fan of Morning Thunder, which combines caffeine with mate, an herb that acts like caffeine in our body). An eight-ounce cup of coffee contains around 135 mg caffeine; tea contains only 30 to 40 mg per cup. If drinking coffee gives you the jitters, causes indigestion or headaches or interferes with sleep — switch to tea.
3. Tea may reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. Unwanted blood clots formed from cholesterol and blood platelets cause heart attack and stroke. Drinking tea may help keep your arteries smooth and clog-free, the same way a drain keeps your bathroom pipes clear. A 5.6-year study from the Netherlands found a 70 percent lower risk of fatal heart attack in people who drank at least two to three cups of black tea daily compared to non-tea drinkers.
4. Tea protects your bones. It’s not just the milk added to tea that builds strong bones. One study that compared tea drinkers with non-drinkers, found that people who drank tea for 10 or more years had the strongest bones, even after adjusting for age, body weight, exercise, smoking and other risk factors. The authors suggest that this may be the work of tea’s many beneficial phytochemicals.
5. Tea gives you a sweet smile. One look at the grimy grin of Austin Powers and you may not think drinking tea is good for your teeth, but think again. It’s the sugar added to it that’s likely to blame for England’s bad dental record. Tea itself actually contains fluoride and tannins that may keep plaque at bay. So add unsweetened tea drinking to your daily dental routine of brushing and flossing for healthier teeth and gums.
6. Tea bolsters your immune defenses. Drinking tea may help your body’s immune system fight off infection. When 21 volunteers drank either five cups of tea or coffee each day for four weeks, researchers saw higher immune system activity in the blood of the tea drinkers.
7. Tea protects against cancer. Thank the polyphenols, the antioxidants found in tea, once again for their cancer-fighting effects. While the overall research is inconclusive, there are enough studies that show the potential protective effects of drinking tea to make adding tea to your list of daily beverages.
8. Tea helps keep you hydrated. Caffeinated beverages, including tea, used to be on the list of beverages thatdidn’t contribute to our daily fluid needs. Since caffeine is a diuretic and makes us pee more, the thought was that caffeinated beverages couldn’t contribute to our overall fluid requirement. However, recent research has shown that the caffeine really doesn’t matter — tea and other caffeinated beverages definitely contribute to our fluid needs. The only time the caffeine becomes a problem as far as fluid is concerned is when you drink more than five or six cups of a caffeinated beverage at one time.
9. Tea is calorie-free. Tea doesn’t have any calories, unless you add sweetener or milk. Consuming even 250 fewer calories per day can result in losing one pound per week. If you’re looking for a satisfying, calorie-free beverage, tea is a top choice.
10. Tea increases your metabolism. Lots of people complain about a slow metabolic rate and their inability to lose weight. Green tea has been shown to actually increase metabolic rate so that you can burn 70 to 80 additional calories by drinking just five cups of green tea per day. Over a year’s time you could lose eight pounds just by drinking green tea. Of course, taking a 15-minute walk every day will also burn calories.
1. Which tea is better — green, black, white?
There really isn’t enough difference to get overly excited about. All teas generally contain the same amount of flavonoids. Green and black tea come from the same plants, but green tea is dried for a shorter time and doesn’t go through a fermenting process used for black tea.
2. Are decaffeinated teas just as good for you?
Some companies use chemicals to decaffeinate tea; others use a water process. The chemical process removes more of the beneficial polyphenols, so read labels carefully when choosing decaf.
3. How do you brew a perfect cup of tea?
For hot tea:
Bring one cup of water per tea bag, or teaspoon of dried tea, to a rolling boil.
Measure the tea into a glass container (plastic and metal pick up unwanted flavors).
Pour the boiling water over your tea and steep to the desired strength. Steep too long and you’ll get an acidic taste.
For iced tea:
Brew your tea with boiling water, as described above.
Chill with ice and keep in the fridge.
A Cup of Hot Tea = A Cup of Good Health
Tea Consumption Linked to Numerous Body Benefits
A hot cup of tea may do more than relax you. Research shows tea consumption may help prevent a wide range of ailments.
The latest medical research is finding potential healing powers in this ancient beverage. Recent research, for instance, suggests drinking tea may help prevent everything from cavities to Parkinson’s disease. And some studies indicate it may even save lives.
The benefits of tea consumption may extend throughout the body, experts believe. Here is a partial list of conditions some research has shown may be prevented or improved by drinking tea:
Arthritis: Research suggests that older women who are tea drinkers are 60 percent less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than those who do not drink tea.
Bone Density: Drinking tea regularly for years may produce stronger bones. Those who drank tea on a regular basis for 10 or more years had higher-bone mineral density in their spines than those who had not.
Cancer: Green tea extracts were found to inhibit the growth of bladder cancer cells in the lab — while other studies suggest that drinking green tea protects against developing stomach and esophageal cancers.
Sipping on a cup of hot tea may be a safeguard against cancer. Population studies have linked the consumption of tea with a reduction in risk for several types of cancer. Researchers speculate that the polyphenols in tea may inhibit certain mechanisms that promote cancer growth. Both green and black teas have been credited with cancer-inhibiting powers.
Flu: You may be able to boost your fight against the flu with black tea.
Your best defense against contracting the flu is to wash your hands often and get vaccinated against the influenza virus. Black tea may further bolster your efforts to stay healthy. In a recent study, people who gargled with a black tea extract solution twice per day showed a higher immunity to flu virus compared to the people who did not gargle with black tea.
Heart Disease: A recent study published in the journal Circulation found that drinking more than two cups of tea a day decreased the risk of death following a heart attack by 44 percent. Even less spirited tea drinkers were rewarded: Consuming just two cups a day decreased the risk of death by almost a third.
Tea is a rich source of the flavonoids quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin, and research shows that high dietry intake of these compounds is associated with a reduced risk of fatal heart attacks. In one study, people who drank about a cup and a half of tea per day were almost 40% less likely to suffer a heart attack compared to tea abstainers.
High Blood Pressure: Tea lovers may be surprised to learn their beverage of choice touts yet another health benefit: blood pressure control. Drinking a half-cup of green or oolong tea per day reduced a person’s risk of high blood pressure by almost 50% in a new study. People who drank at least two and a half cups per day reduced their risk even more. Their risk was reduced even if they had risk factors for high blood pressure, such as high sodium intake.
Parkinson’s Disease: Tea consumption may be protective against developing this debilitating neurological disorder.
Oral Health: Rinsing with tea may prevent cavities and gum disease.
What’s responsible for tea’s many health benefits?
It’s the complex brew of chemicals that make up this seemingly simple beverage.
“The big class of chemicals in tea are flavonoids — a natural class of antioxidants that are found in many natural plant-derived foods,” explains Dr. Kenneth Mukamal, an internist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and author of the Circulation report. “In American diets, black tea represents probably the single biggest source of flavonoids.”
Antioxidants rid the body of molecules called free radicals, which are side products of damage done to the body by pollution and the natural aging process. Free radicals in the body’s cells are very unstable and tend to react negatively with other important molecules like DNA, causing malfunctions and injury on the cellular level. The destruction these free radicals produce may therefore pave the way for diseases like heart disease and cancer.
In the case of heart disease, antioxidants in tea may prevent death from second heart attack by helping blood vessels relax, thereby allowing blood to flow through more easily, potentially lowering blood pressure and reducing stress on the heart.
Antioxidants are thought to be behind the benefits of tea on dental health as well. A number of studies have suggested that rinsing with black or green tea may lead to better oral health.
“We have found that the [antioxidants] in black tea will suppress the growth of bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities and gum diseases,” says Christine Wu, professor of periodontics at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry. “These will inhibit or interfere with the attachment of bacteria to the tooth surface.”
A Prescription for Better Health?
With so much compelling research, isn’t it about time for everyone to consider brewing up more of this potent potable?
“For nearly everybody, there are few, if any, downsides to drinking tea. It’s hard for me to tell people not to do it,” says Mukamal. “But I’m not sure our evidence is quite at the stage where we would be recommending that everybody drink tea.”
That’s because some people may be sensitive to certain components of tea. And while the caffeine content is 1/3 that of a cup of coffee, some people may react to caffeine at any concentration.
Additionally, researchers need to pin down how much and how often tea should be consumed for optimal health. “Drinking tea is beneficial, but we need to do more studies to substantiate it,” says Wu.
In the meantime, adding tea to your list of possible beverages is probably a good idea, experts say.
“I think it’s reasonable for people looking to make healthy lifestyle choices to consider tea as a better option than other beverages — which aren’t necessarily harmful, but which may not give people the added benefits that something like tea does,” says Mukamal.
(Submitted by Erin Ellizabeth Ward of Durham, North Carolina)
Black Tea Helps Prevent Cavities
New studies, funded by the Tea Trade Health Research Association, found several doses of black tea every day not only reduced plaque build-up but also helped control bacteria.
“We found that the black tea infusion can inhibit or suppress the growth of bacteria that promotes cavities and affect their ability to attach to tooth surfaces,” Christine Wu, professor of periodontics at the University of Illinois and lead researcher on one part of the study.
Wu said that while earlier studies in Japan have shown the cavity-fighting benefits of green tea, known for its rich antioxidants, her team chose to focus on black tea, which is more popular in western culture.
The research is part of a collaborative study done in conjunction with the College of Dentistry at the University of Iowa and the Institute of Odontology at Goeteborg University in Sweden. The findings were presented at a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Orlando, Florida.
300 Species of Bacteria
Dental plaque contains more than 300 species of bacteria that adhere to tooth surfaces and produce cavity-causing acid. Plaque is also a leading cause of gum disease.
A specific element of black tea, called polyphenols, killed or suppressed cavity-causing bacteria from either growing or producing acid, according to Wu’s study. The tea also affected the bacterial enzymes and prevented the formation of the sticky-like material that binds plaque to teeth.
Participants in the study rinsed with tea for 30 seconds, five times, waiting three minutes between each rinse.
“We were trying to simulate what people did while sipping tea,” Wu said.
A similar study by Goeteborg University, where participants rinsed with tea for one minute 10 times per day, showed comparable results. Both studies showed that the more people rinsed, the more their plaque and bacteria levels fell.
In the University of Iowa study, researchers looked at the impact of black tea’s fluoride content on preventing cavities but found the benefits less clear. They exposed pre-cavity lesions to black tea but saw little change, suggesting that tea’s cavity-fighting ability stems from a complicated reaction between it and bacteria.
Fluoride Not A Factor?
“We had very little results, which implies that if tea is having a result in normal use it’s not from fluoride,” said James Wefel, professor and director of the Dows Institute of Dental Research at the University of Iowa.
Of course, to help prevent cavities the tea must truly be “black,” without sugar, milk, honey or other additives. Researchers also stressed drinking black tea should not replace traditional oral hygiene.
“Tea will affect the plaque formation but one has to brush their teeth to remove the plaque,” Wu said. “It’s a must.” And while black tea may fight cavities, it does not combat tooth stains.
(Submitted by James Dewanz of New York)
Hibiscus Tea – Antioxidants
A recent study revealed that hibiscus teas contain a number of different antioxidants that may help to protect against cell-damaging free radicals. These teas also may help control high blood pressure. You can find hibiscus in such teas as sour tea, red zinger tea, or sorrel tea. Check the ingredients label to be sure.
Tea is the most commonly consumed beverage in the world after water. Among all varieties of tea – black, green, white, oolong, red, herbal – which one offers the most health benefits?
Benefits of Tea
Numerous studies have demonstrated the anti-cancer properties of antioxidant polyphenols. Some studies have suggested that tea’s polyphenols may reduce the risk of gastric, esophageal and skin cancers, if one consumes 4 to 6 cups daily. Another study showed that just 2 cups of tea may lower the risk of ovarian cancer by 46 percent in women. Other studies have found that polyphenols help prevent blood clotting and lower cholesterol levels. One Japanese study found that green tea lowers death rates from heart disease.
Tea: Black, Green, White or Oolong?
Black, green, white, and oolong teas derive their leaves from a warm-weather evergreen tree known as Camellia sinensis. The leaves from this tree contain polyphenols. The more processing tea leaves undergo, the darker they will turn. Green tea and white tea are the least processed tea. They are simply steamed quickly. According to Dr. Doug Balentine, Director of Nutrition Health with Lipton, white tea is derived from the young new leaves from the Camellia plant in early spring. These young leaves contain no chlorophyll, so they are silvery white. Black and oolong teas are partially dried, crushed and fermented. As we have mentioned before, regardless of the processing method, black, green, white and oolong teas all contain polyphenols. In fact, tea ranks as high as or higher than many fruits and vegetables in the ORAC score, a score that measures antioxidant potential of plant-based foods.
What about Herbal Tea and Red Rooibos Tea?
Herbal tea is not derived from the leaves of the Camellia plant and so does not have the particular health-promoting properties. Indeed, most herbal teas in the market are NOT tea at all. They are only infusions made with herbs, flowers, roots, spices or other parts of some plants. The proper term for this type of beverage is “tisane.”
The recently popular South African red Rooibos tea also falls within the herbal tea or tisane category. “Red Rooibos tea is not really tea as it is not derived from the Camellia plant,” Dr. Balentine said. They may not contain the same beneficial flavonoid compounds as found in black and green teas. In fact, Dr. Balentine said that “no scientific evidence yet has shown the health benefits of red Rooibos tea.”
Although tisane does not contain as any polyphenols, it does promote other various health qualities such as relaxation and calming effects.
Tea: Caffeine content
According to the American Dietetic Association, a cup of tea contains an average of 40 mg of caffeine, compared to 85 mg as found in a cup of freshly brewed coffee.
What about Decaf Tea?
We do not know whether decaf teas have the same polyphenols, and thus the same health benefits. It is not yet known if removing caffeine also removes polyphenols in the decaffeinating process.
The Bottom Line
Tea is a healthy beverage offering many health benefits (if you skip the cream and sugar). Brew your tea for at least 3 – 5 minutes to bring out the beneficial polyphenols. Enjoy the aroma of tea!
Also beware of bottled green tea beverages, like Enviga, that claim to help lose weight! No solid scientific evidence has proven its efficacy in burning calories.
The Benefits of Tea
Much has been written and said about the amazing health benefits of tea. So much in fact, that it’s often difficult to separate fact from fiction. What are the scientifically recognized benefits of tea? The following is a brief synopsis of the latest findings.
If you are the type to fret over the appearance of wrinkles, age spots and other signs of growing old, oolong tea may be the answer to your worries. In a recent experiment carried out jointly by researchers from the US, Taiwan and Japan, mice which were fed tea displayed fewer signs of aging than mice that were fed water. The Straits Times, Sept. 24, 01
The wonder cup just got even more wonderful. Green tea, rich in antioxidant treasures that protect against heart disease and cancer, now shows promise as an allergy fighter. In laboratory tests, Japanese researchers have found that the antioxidants in green tea, block the biochemical process involved in producing an allergic response. Green tea may be useful against a wide range of sneeze-starting allergens, including pollen, pet dander, and dust. Prevention, April 2003
Green tea catechins are chondroprotective and consumption of green tea may be prophylactic for arthritis and may benefit the arthritis patient by reducing inflammation and slowing cartilage breakdown. The Journal of Nutrition, Mar 2002
Green tea may be useful in controlling inflammation from injury or diseases such as arthritis. Boston Globe, April 26, 99
Tea flavonoids may be bone builders. A report in this week’s Archives of Internal Medicine looked at about 500 Chinese men and women who regularly drank black, green, or oolong tea for more than 10 years. Compared with nonhabitual tea drinkers, tea regulars had higher bone mineral densities, even after exercise and calcium-which strengthen bones-were taken into account. U.S. News & World Report, May 20, 2002
“Tea is one of the single best cancer fighters you can put in your body,” according to Mitchell Gaynor, MD, director of medical oncology at the world-renowned Strong Cancer Prevention Center in New York City and co-author of Dr. Gaynor’s Cancer Prevention Program. The latest tea discovery? Strong evidence that both green and black tea can fight cancer-at least in the test tube-though green tea holds a slight edge. In a new study, both teas kept healthy cells from turning malignant after exposure to cancer-causing compounds. Prevention, May 2000
People who drink about 4 cups of green tea a day seem to get less cancer. Now we may know why. In recent test-tube studies, a compound called EGCG, a powerful antioxidant in tea, inhibited an enzyme that cancer cells need in order to grow. The cancer cells that couldn’t grow big enough to divide self-destructed. It would take about 4 cups of green tea a day to get the blood levels of EGCG that inhibited cancer in the study. Black tea also contains EGCG, but at much lower concentrations. Prevention, Aug 1999
Tea can lower ‘bad’ cholesterol levels. Researchers at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland, asked test subjects to eat low-fat, low-calorie prepared meals and drink five cups of caffeinated tea or caffeinated and non-caffeinated placebos that mimicked the look of tea. Levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol dropped 10 percent among the test subjects who drank tea. Vegetarian Times, Jan 2003
Drinking black tea may lower the risk of heart disease because it prevents blood from clumping and forming clots. In a recent study, researchers found that while drinking black tea, the participants had lower levels of the blood protein associated with coagulation. Better Nutrition, Jan 2002
Better to be deprived of food for three days than tea for one,Ã“ says a Chinese proverb. Research is showing it may just be true. Dr. Kenneth Mukamal of Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reported that out of 1,900 heart-attack patients, those who drank two or more cups a day reduced their risks of dying over the next 3.8 years by 44 percent. Newsweek, May 20, 2002
Trying to lose weight? Reach for a cup of green tea instead of a diet beverage. Compared to the placebo and caffeine, green tea extract consumption produced a significant 4% increase in 24-hour energy expenditure. If you consume 2,000 calories per day and don’t gain or lose weight (you’re in energy balance), an increase of 4% would translate roughly into an 80-calorie daily difference. Over a year, this could result in 89 pounds of weight loss. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Nov 1999
Recent evidence shows that in the battle of fat loss, green tea may be superior to plain caffeine. According to a new study, green tea appears to accelerate calorie burning – including fat calories. Researchers suggest compounds in green tea called flavonoids may change how the body uses a hormone called norepinephrine, which then speeds the rate calories are burned. Joe Weider’s Muscle & Fitness, April 2000
Loose vs Bags
Tea made from loose leaves has more antioxidants than tea bags, which tend to have lower-quality, powdered leaves. Prevention, April 2003
Black vs Green
Black tea is turning out to be just as healthful as green tea. Univ of California Wellness Letter, March 2002
One cup of black or green tea has more antioxidant power than a serving of broccoli, carrots, or spinach. Prevention, Aug 1998
Tea decaffeinated using a natural CO-2 process retains 90% of its cancer-fighting properties. Prevention, Feb 2000
Java junkies, perk up: Substituting tea for coffee will cut your caffeine intake by more than half. Prevention, May 96
White tea appears to have more potent anticancer qualities than green tea. Reuters Health, March 30, 2000
Want to learn more? A summary of the latest findings on the proven benefits of tea is available online. We encourage you to learn more about the many benefits of tea.