Regarded for thousands of years in the East as a key to good health, happiness, and wisdom, tea has caught the attention of researchers in the West. Some are still discovering the many health benefits of different types of teas.
Obviously, from green teas to hibiscus, from white teas to chamomile, teas are chock full of flavonoids and other healthy goodies. And you’ll agree with me that no matter what the season, tea can be a tasty beverage since it can be served iced or hot.
But, did you know that its benefits go far beyond refreshment? In fact, there is plenty of research showing that drinking a variety of teas can actually improve your health.
For instance, the newest study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, involved more than 100,000 adults in China.
Whereby, it found that those who regularly drank tea were less likely to develop atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Or rather, die prematurely from any cause — particularly stroke — compared to others during a seven-year follow-up.
The link was especially strong among habitual tea drinkers. Meaning — those who enjoyed the beverage at least three times a week. And by all means, green tea seemed to have a stronger effect than black tea.
What is Tea?
In general, Tea is a name given to a lot of brews, but purists consider only green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, and pu-erh tea the real thing. But, they are all derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, a shrub native to China and India, and contain unique antioxidants called flavonoids.
The most potent of these, known as ECGC, may help against free radicals that can contribute to cancer, heart disease, and clogged arteries. And all these teas also have caffeine and theanine, which affect the brain and seem to heighten mental alertness.
Green, Black, and White Teas
The more processed the leaves, usually the less polyphenol content. Polyphenols include flavonoids. Whereby, oolong and black teas are oxidized or fermented.
So that in the end, they have lower concentrations of polyphenols than green teas. But their antioxidizing power is still high. Below are the general types of teas;
Made with steamed leaves, it has a high concentration of EGCG and has been widely studied.
Green tea’s antioxidants may interfere with the growth of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers. Preventing clogging of the arteries, burning of fat, and counteract oxidative stress on the brain.
While at the same time, reducing the risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. As well as, reducing the risk of stroke, and improving cholesterol levels.
Made with fermented leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, along with some instant teas.
Studies have shown that black tea may protect the lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It also may reduce the risk of stroke.
It’s uncured and unfermented.
One study showed that white tea has the most potent anticancer properties compared to more processed teas.
In an animal study, those given antioxidants from oolong tea were found to have lower bad cholesterol levels.
One variety of oolong, Wuyi, is heavily marketed as a weight-loss supplement, but science hasn’t backed the claims.
Made from fermented and aged leaves. Considered a black tea, its leaves are pressed into cakes.
One animal study showed that animals given pu-erh had less weight gain and reduced LDL cholesterol.
What does Tea provide?
Basically, of all types, green tea is touted to be one of the healthiest beverages on the planet. It’s loaded with antioxidants that have many health benefits.
Some of the benefits may include, improved brain function, fat loss, protecting against cancer, and lowering the risk of heart disease.
The results suggest habitual tea consumption may be considered “as an overall health-promoting lifestyle behavior.” Wrote Vanessa Bianconi, a researcher at the University of Perugia in Italy and lead author of an editorial accompanying the new research.
Tea’s ability to lower blood pressure may be why it could reduce a person’s risk of dying of a stroke, the editorial noted.
And, especially green tea is a rich source of flavonoids, bioactive compounds that can lessen oxidative stress, relieve inflammation, and provide other health benefits.
But, they cautioned more research was needed to see whether the results in Chinese adults would also apply to people outside East Asia.
What are the Benefits of Tea?
To help you feel better, lose weight, and lower your risk of chronic diseases, you may want to consider making herbal teas a regular part of your life.
Based on the findings, a 50-year-old frequent tea drinker might develop heart disease almost a year-and-a-half later. Or even, live about a year longer than someone who never or seldom drank tea, the study authors wrote.
Generally, there are two main types you can benefit from;
- herbal teas
- instant teas
Surprisingly, the rates of type 2 diabetes are increasing in recent decades. The condition now affects about 1 in 1o people in Kenya.
Type 2 diabetes involves having elevated blood sugar levels, which may be caused by insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin. However, studies show that green tea may improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.
Made from herbs, fruits, seeds, or roots steeped in hot water, herbal teas have lower concentrations of antioxidants than green, white, black, and oolong teas. And as a matter of fact, their chemical compositions vary widely depending on the plant used.
- Ginkgo biloba,
- Rooibos (red tea),
- Chamomile, and
It is also important to realize, limited research has been done on the health benefits of herbal teas. But, claims that they help to shed pounds, stave off colds, and bring on restful sleep are largely unsupported.
Here are some findings:
- Chamomile Tea: Its antioxidants may help prevent complications from diabetes, like loss of vision and nerve and kidney damage, and stunt the growth of cancer cells.
- Echinacea: Often touted as a way to fight the common cold, the research on echinacea has been inconclusive.
- Hibiscus: A small study found that drinking three cups of hibiscus tea daily lowered blood pressure in people with modestly elevated levels.
- Rooibos (Red Tea): A South African herb that is fermented. Although it has flavonoids with cancer-fighting properties, medical studies have been limited.
Instant tea may contain very little amounts of actual tea and plenty of sugars or artificial sweeteners. For health’s sake, always remember to check out the ingredients on the label.
General benefits of various teas;
These cautions aside, nutritionists say to drink up and enjoy the health benefits of a variety of teas.
- They contain healthy bioactive compounds: Helps in reducing inflammation and helping to fight cancer.
- Improves brain functions: Green tea contains less caffeine than coffee but enough to produce an effect. It also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which can work synergistically with caffeine to improve brain function.
- Increases fat burning: Teas may boost metabolic rate and increase fat burning in the short term, although not all studies agree. And not only can green tea improve brain function in the short term, but it may also protect your brain as you age.c
- Antioxidant effects: The powerful antioxidants may help protect against cancer. Multiple studies show that green tea drinkers have a lower risk of various types of cancer.
- May help reduce bad breath: The catechins in green tea may inhibit the growth of bacteria in the mouth, reducing the risk of bad breath.
- Helps prevent cardiovascular disease: Green tea may lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol. As well as protect the LDL particles from oxidation. Studies show that people who drink green tea have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Does Tea Inhibit Coronavirus?
Of course, Yes! Researchers from Taiwan and China have found that in a laboratory study SARS Cov-2 could be inhibited by compounds that are abundant in teas.
Whereas, numerous black tea polyphenols were found to inhibit the SARS Cov-2 replication. Especially those of Theaflavins-1, Theaflavins-2, and Theaflavins-3.
Results suggest that Theaflavins might be a good starting point for the design of more active inhibitors for SARS-CoV-2. And that these compounds are abundant in the extract of black tea.
In another recent study, a research group from Indonesia and Thailand studied the secondary metabolites secreted by plants in tropical regions — that can be developed as medicines.
By investigating a number of compounds and their potential, they found out that;
Along with several compounds catechin, and epicatechin-gallate sourced from tea (Camellia Sinensis) was the most recommended compounds. In that case, acting as potential inhibitors of COVID-19 Coronavirus.
Proving that drinking 3 to 4 cups of black tea in a day is associated with a lower risk of myocardial infarction and reduced risk of stroke.
Equally important, it was proved that drinking black tea (which has Theaflavins content), 3X a day had a positive impact on other related cases as well.
Such as reducing the degree of growth of cancerous cells. Including breast cancer, skin cancer, and even prostate cancer.
However, further research is still in progress to help support and prove the anti-viral properties it has against Coronavirus.
As can be seen, tea is more than just a hydrating beverage. Particularly, the green one that contains a range of healthy compounds that make it into the final drink.
Tea is rich in polyphenols, which are natural compounds that have numerous health benefits. Such as reducing inflammation and helping to fight cancer.
Given that green tea can boost the metabolic rate in the short term, it makes sense that it could help you lose weight.
In addition, given that some compounds in green tea may help protect against cancer and heart disease, it makes sense that it could help you live longer.
Finally, during these hard times of lockdown and curfews, I hope that the above-revised guide will be useful to you or even your family and friends.
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