to Numerous Body Benefits
Excerpt By Melinda T. Willis, ABCNews.com
tea time isn't your cup of tea, you may want to reconsider.
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.
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:
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 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.
Research suggests that older women who are tea drinkers are 60 percent
less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than those who do not
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.
Disease: Tea consumption may be protective against developing this
debilitating neurological disorder.
Rinsing with tea may prevent cavities and gum disease.
Cream and Antioxidants, Please
for tea's many health benefits? It's the complex brew of chemicals
that make up this seemingly simple beverage.
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."
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.
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.
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."
for Better Health?
With so much
compelling research, isn't it about time for everyone to consider
brewing up more of this potent potable?
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."
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.
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.
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.
Black, Green or Herbal?
First cultivated in China nearly 5,000 years ago, tea is consumed
in greater quantity worldwide than any other beverage except water.
The beverage is made from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis,
which is native to India and perhaps parts of China and Japan.
Black, green and oolong teas are all made from this plant but differ
in their methods of preparation. All tea leaves are withered, rolled
and heated, but black teas go through an oxidative process known
as fermentation before the final heating process. Oolong teas are
are not derived from Camellia sinensis, but from the leaves, bark,
roots, seeds and flowers of other plants. These teas have not been
associated with the many healing benefits related to black and green
Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition; Tea Association, Tea Council and Specialty
Tea Registry (STAR) .
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