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One of the most common questionswe are asked is “What are the health benefits of tea?” Tea is actually undergoing a revival in popularity, due in part to its reported health benefits. While tea has always been popular in Asian, European and other countries, its popularity is growing rapidly here in the United States.
While many steeped concoctions are referred to with the term tea, all true teas originate from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis plant. The different types of tea — white, green, black, oolong, and pu-erh — are created by the way they are processed. The processing affects the appearance and taste, as well as the healthful benefits of the tea.
The list of maladies that tea is purported to influence is long, but we will address five of the top conditions most people are eager to prevent and provide links for further personal investigation and for discussion with your health professional.
Like any plant, tea has natural polyphenols and other antioxidants that may help fight cancer. Studies of the effect of tea polyphenols on animals have produced promising results. However, human studies have been inconclusive. Many variables affect the findings. Teas from different areas and grown in different soils and under different conditions vary in their levels of polyphenols and other antioxidants. Also, humans and their diets vary greatly, and many factors influence the effect of different substances on the body. Read more
Tea has been found to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Different studies have tested green tea, as well as black tea. One of these studies was conducted using green tea and Japanese individuals, and another was conducted using black tea and Americans, two groups of people who obviously have very different diets. However, both studies showed reductions in the occurrence of cardiovascular events. Since cardiovascular disease is so pervasive in American culture, this is very exciting news. Read more here and here
Studies show great promise that green tea may prevent Alzheimer’s and actually improve memory in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. Beta-amyloid plaques cause the problems for Alzheimer’s sufferers. The flavonoid EGCG binds to the beta-amyloid proteins, preventing plaque formation. Without the plaques, patients experience less memory loss. This has actually been observed using MRI technology. Read more about this exciting discovery here
The American Diabetes Association suggests that drinking tea can lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes. A survey of approximately 26,000 Europeans found that the people who drank the most tea had a 16 percent lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes than non-tea drinkers. This was a very limited study, and participants were not asked what type of tea they drank. Obviously, more research needs to be conducted to investigate tea’s affect on diabetes. Read more
Obesity and Weight Gain
Since weight gain and obesity have become so prevalent in America and because weight gain and obesity are related to so many problems, including most of those listed above, many people are looking for help. Studies have been conducted that shed light on how green tea affects fatty tissue. These studies conducted on humans show that green tea results in reduced body fat and weight. This link leads to an abstract with the findings of this particular study. Your health professional should be able to provide you with the full article. Read more
While we are certainly not doctors or biologists, we see that many studies with many different foci suggest that tea is beneficial to health. Exactly how this is true still needs more study. More studies need to be conducted using human subjects, as well. In the meantime, we will continue to sip our tea in moderation.
And, since drinking tea relaxes us and makes us feel good anyway, we will enjoy reduced stress with the knowledge that we are most likely doing something that is healthy and good for our bodies and our minds.
Happy Tea Times,