What are the health benefits of drinking tea?
-Apr 18, Caroline Blight, Health -
It’s National Tea Day on the 21st April. Many of us have known about the curative powers of this humble beverage for years. But we wondered if there are genuine health benefits? And, it turns out that tea is packed with goodness.
Some people should not be approached before their morning cup of tea. It’s the classic beverage for a shock or a catch up and the leaves can possibly even tell your fortune. But did you know that tea is not just delicious – it’s loaded with health benefits?
So get the kettle on because here are ten more reasons to sip a cup of tea!
Tea is loaded with antioxidants
All types of tea boast a heathy dose of antioxidants – which help slow the ageing process.
All teas (that’s white, green and black) come from the camellia tea plant and are rich in polyphenols. They have ten times the amount found in fruit and vegetables.
This antioxidant scavenges for cell-damaging free radicals in the body and detoxifies them.
While all tea has this powerful compound, white tea is less processed than black or green tea. It’s the buds and young leaves of the tea plant which are dried in sunlight and not steamed or fired in any way, so it retains more beneficial antioxidants.
Green tea is also less processed than black so is a more nutritional choice.
Tea can help you lose weight
Studies into tea’s weight loss-promoting properties have found numerous ways in which it works.
Green tea has been shown to aid slimming as the large number of polyphenols in it are absorbed and alter the energy metabolism in the liver.
The flavonoids and caffeine in green tea can also help raise metabolic rate, increase fat oxidation and insulin activity by drinking as little as three cups a day.
One study found those who consumed green tea and caffeine lost an average of 2.9 pounds during a 12-week period, while sticking to their regular diet.
Another study suggested the increase in calorie output was equal to about 100 calories over a 24-hour period.
Not a fan of green tea? – don’t worry.
Researchers have found that drinking black tea changes bacteria in the gut.
The percentage of bacteria associated with obesity decreased, while those associated with lean body mass increased.
Professor Susanne Henning, who led the study at UCLA Centre for Human Nutrition, said:
“It was known that green tea polyphenols are more effective and offer more health benefits than black tea polyphenols since green tea chemicals are absorbed into the blood and tissue.
“Our findings suggest that black tea, through a specific mechanism through the gut microbiome, may also contribute to good health and weight loss in humans.” We’ll drink to that.
Tea might prevent heart attacks
There is increasing research showing how beneficial tea is to heart health.
Studies by Linus Pauling Institute’s Micronutrient Information Center, suggests consumption of at least three cups per day of black tea may decrease the risk of heart attack. While the consumption of at least four to five cups per day may promote blood vessel relaxation in those with coronary artery disease.
Meanwhile a Japanese study conducted in 2006, compared people drinking less than one cup per day of green tea to people whose daily consumption was five or more cups.
They found that green tea drinkers had a 26 percent reduction in death from cardiovascular diseases.
Tea might be good for your bones
Researchers at University of Cambridge School of Medicine found older women who drank tea had higher bone mineral density measurements than non-tea drinkers.
Lead author Verona Hegarty said: “These findings were independent of smoking status, use of HRT, coffee drinking, and whether milk was added to tea.”
The number of cups of tea per day did not seem to play a role. The study findings suggested tea has components that weakly mimic the effect of the female hormone estrogen and may be important in maintaining bone mineral density in post-menopausal women.
When it comes to fracture risk, the Mediterranean Osteoporosis showed that tea drinking was associated with a 30% reduction in hip fracture risk on both women and men over the age of 50.
This could be because some of the antioxidants in tea protect against oxidative stress which has been shown to inhibit osteoblast, one of the cells which builds bones.
Tea is good for your immunity
The fabulous antioxidant boost tea gives the body generally strengthens the whole immune system.
The protection it gives from the damage caused by free radicals and similar compounds in the body, means our bodies are less stressed and can run effectively.
And when we have a happy, healthy immune system we can better handle infections from bacteria and viruses.
Tea can improve your smile
It’s hard to believe that a drink can help your teeth but tea has been found to do just that!
The way in which tea – in particular green tea – controls bacteria and lowers the acidity of saliva and dental plaque, means it can actually prevent cavities.
An Egyptian study tested people before and after they gave their mouths a five-minute rinse with green tea.
The test subjects had less bacteria and acid in their mouths, as well as reduced gum bleeding after the green tea rinse.
So a cup of green tea could be a wise choice after a meal to offer your teeth some protection from damage.
And it has been found to reduce bad breath as well – in fact it was more effective than mints, chewing gum and parsley in tests.
As well as helping teeth, tea studies have noted how green tea can help gum health and prevent gum disease.
A Japanese survey of almost 1,000 men found that those who drank green tea regularly had healthier gums than those who didn’t.
This was backed up by a German study which discovered positive results in people who were asked to chew green-tea extract packed pastels.
Tea can protect against strokes
There has been much research on the link between tea and the prevention of strokes. It seems tea has a long-term effect on your stroke risk. One study of 500,000 people worldwide showed a 13% lower risk of a stroke among tea drinkers who drank 3 cups per day. While another found that daily tea drinkers have a 35% lower chance of a stroke than non-tea drinkers.
Why? There could be a number of factors which work together to create the perfect storm including the flavonoids in tea, the fact these subjects were well hydrated with the tea and the fact that when drunk in moderate amounts, caffeine can be beneficial for the blood and helps prevent strokes in people without high blood pressure.
Tea might help to protect you from UV sun damage
While nothing protects the skin like suncream, it’s worth keeping up your tea consumption over the summer. It has been linked to helping our bodies deal with damage from UV exposure.
A 2003 study noted the way in which green tea prevented inflammatory and immune system-suppressing responses ordinarily associated with ultraviolet exposure. This process reduces the severity of several skin problems associated with UV damage. In fact, applying a compound found in tea, known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate, can act as a balm for sun damaged skin.
Tea could possibly help to prevent cancer
Catechin, a type of antioxidant found in green and white tea contains a compound called Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has been discovered to have amazing tumour-fighting abilities, directly preventing the growth of cancerous tumours by changing the levels of a protein known as cyclin D1 that is needed by cancer cells to grow properly.
It can also and even reduce any tumour growth once they have begun as the EGCG also blocks enzymes that help to maintain cancer cells in the cell cycle, which allows them to keep growing. The blocking causes ‘growth arrest’ – in some cases scientists have found this is permanent.
The same compound also busts cancer by supporting the immune systems fight carcinogens increasing the levels of other important cellular proteins that make it very difficult for cancer cells to grow.
Tea has anti-inflammatory properties
The polyphenols in green tea have anti-inflammatory properties, so could be beneficial in managing rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.
Green, black and white teas can all protect against inflammation. But green tea seems to be the most effective and has been linked to improvement inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and inflammatory bowel disease.
If this has got you in the mood for a cup of tea, why not try the ultimate guide to a cup of healthy matcha tea? And if you want to get really adventurous