Tea and Your Health
2 cups of tea = 7 glasses of orange juice = 5 onions = 4 apples
Why drink tea?
"Better to go 3 days without food than 1 without tea..."
Perhaps the ancient Chinese scribe who penned the above knew what he was talking about.
Tea is not a dietary supplement and should never be used as a replacement for fruits and vegetables.
This page deals with the health benefits of “true tea” from the Camelia Sinensis plant. (Black tea, green tea, white tea and oolong) This information is not intended to replace the advice of professional medical practitioners.
Research Proves What We’ve Always Known
During the last 20 years, numerous researchers and government health agencies from around the world have turned their focus on tea. Their discoveries have shown numerous ways in which tea can play an essential role in a healthy lifestyle.
Health Canada: The Natural Health Products Directorate is currently working toward substantiating claims that all teas, black, green, white and oolong are a bona fide source of antioxidants, a healthy way to stay alert and a positive contributor to cardiovascular health. Health Canada is also studying tea for use as an adjunct treatment in weight management programs when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Harvard University: Recent studies found that tea contains theanine, a unique amino acid that primes the immune system for fighting infection, bacteria, viruses and fungi.
UK Institute of Child Health: Studies published in the journal of the Federation of Experimental Biology indicate that a major component of green tea known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) can reduce cell death after a heart attack or stroke.
Below are some of the most commonly asked about issues regarding tea and health. This information is intended for overview purposes only.
Green Tea & Black Tea
Green teas and black teas both come from the same plant, Camelia sinensis, the difference being that green tea is unfermented. Studies indicate that tea in this unfermented state retains many of its naturally occurring compounds intact. One of the most important of these is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a major chemical component of green tea not found in fermented black tea. The process of steaming or pan-firing green teas stops ECGC from oxidizing. That said, black tea, like green tea retains a multitude of nutritional qualities.
More on EGCG
EGCG is a powerful antioxidant that can inhibit the growth of, and kill, cancer cells without harming the surrounding healthy tissue. It has also been found to lower levels of some types of cholesterol and inhibit the formation of blood clots, the leading cause of heart attack and stroke. (Research by the UK Institute of Child Health.)
Tea & Vitamins
All teas, black, green, white and oolong contain measurable amounts of the following:
Tea with milk includes:
A cup of tea contains 1/3 to 1/2 the amount of caffeine found in a cup of coffee depending on leaf grade, color, blend, etc. Pound for pound loose tea leaves and ground coffee actually contain similar levels of caffeine. The difference is that 1 pound of tea yields roughly 200 cups of coffee while a pound of coffee yields roughly 60 cups. The result is 1/3 less caffeine on average per cup of tea.
Caffeine is a natural component of tea and is considered safe when consumed in moderation. According to Health Canada, a balanced diet can include a moderate intake of between 400 to 450 mg per day or 10-12 cups of tea. Actual caffeine levels vary depending on the blend infused, amount of loose leaf used and length of steeping time. In general, most cups of tea have between 25 to 34 mg of caffeine.
Flavonoids & Antioxidants
- Present in all Black, Green, White and Oolong teas.
- Researchers at Tufts University have found that the flavonoids in tea protect cells from damage caused by free radicals and other carcinogens in the body. The Flavonoids act as antioxidants that help the body flush carcinogens and maintain normal cell growth rates. This increases the natural turnover of precancerous cells and may help control the progression of some cancers.
Tea and the Immune System
Clinical trials at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that the immune cells of people who drank 5 cups of black tea daily for 2 to 4 weeks produced substantially higher levels of interferon, a protein that helps strengthen immune response. This can help the immune system fight off viral and bacterial infections.
Tea and Weight-Loss
Recent studies by researchers in Japan appear to indicate that certain varieties of Oolong may have properties conducive to weight loss. It is believed the tea can help drinkers lose weight when used to replace traditional carbonated sodas. The tea’s nutrient values and anti-oxidants invigorate the body, engendering a feeling of fullness that helps to alleviate the hunger pangs that lead to over-eating and snacking.
Tea & Cardiovascular Disease
A report by Japanese researchers, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that people who drank at least five cups of green tea per day had a 26 percent lower risk of fatal cardiovascular disease than those who had fewer that one cup per day.
Tea & Teeth and Bones
Tea is a naturally occurring source of fluoride. A 2003 study by researchers at the New York University Dental Center found that drinking black tea with meals may help reduce cavities.
Recent studies by the Dept. of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto, found that because it is a rich source of EGCG, consumption of green may have beneficial effects on bone mineral density and overall bone health.
Tea & Kidney Stones
A recently published study followed 81,093 older women for eight years and found that for each eight-ounce cup of tea consumed daily, participants decreased their risk of developing kidney stones by 8%.
A similar study followed 45,289 men and found that for each 8 ounce serving of tea consumed daily there was a 14% decrease in kidney stone development.
Tea & Brain Health
The 2007 International Scientific Symposium on Tea & Human Health in Washington DC revealed some research that suggests tea may lower individual risk of developing dementia and other neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Studies at the Eve Topf Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Israel, found that tea consumption helps maintain the health of brain neurons and improved their ability to combat stressors that can lead to brain degeneration.
Studies at the City College of the City University of New York found that theanine in tea actively supports the attention networks of the brain. Researchers found that the theanine, an amino acid, crossed the blood-brain barrier and increased alpha brain –wave activity, leading to a calmer, more alert state of mind.
Tea is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.