Learn About tea
There have been numerous claims regarding the health benefits of tea and, whilst some claims are unsubstantiated there is increasing medical foundation for many of the claims that have been made.
Taken without milk or sugar, tea contains no calories and the addition of semi-skimmed milk adds around 13 calories to a cup, making tea a healthy alternative to most soft drinks and beverages. Tea is known to be a natural source of fluoride, potassium, manganese and vitamin B2.
There have been many claims relating to the adverse effect of caffeine within both tea and coffee. The average cup of tea contains approximately half the amount of caffeine when compared to coffee, approximately 33mg caffeine per average (190ml) teacup. The recommended daily caffeine intake for adults is within 300mg/day, hence an average intake of five cups of tea a day is well within the considered safe level.
There is a long held belief that caffeinated drinks such as tea are diuretic and have negative effect on hydration, potentially promoting dehydration in the drinker. Tea consumption does not produce a diuretic effect unless the amount of tea consumed at one sitting contained more than 300mg of caffeine. This is equivalent to six or seven cups of tea at one sitting. As tea is 99% water it can make a contribution to daily fluid requirements.
Anti-oxidants and free radicals
It is well known that fruit and vegetables are good sources of antioxidants; however what is less well known is the presence of antioxidants in tea. Tea is known to be a valuable source of anti-oxidants belonging to the group known as flavonoids, which assist in fighting free radicals within the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can naturally occur in the body in response to excess pollution, exposure to UV sunlight, cigarette smoke etc. Free radicals can attack other molecules in the body, potentially leading to cell damage and the formation of more free radicals. Some scientists believe that this type of free radical action has been implicated in certain chronic and ageing diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, cataracts and Alzheimer’s disease. There are studies which have shown that antioxidants may suppress this action, thereby preventing or delaying damage to the cells and tissues.
Cardiovascular Disease/Heart Health
There have been a number of studies investigating whether tea consumption (notably the flavonoid constituent) may be linked to a decreased risk from heart disease and stroke. The scientific evidence related to these potential positive health effects is growing and the outcomes from these studies have created great interest in understanding how the constituents of tea may be beneficial to heart and cardiovascular health. It is reasonable to conclude that drinking both green and black tea is compatible with dietary advice to help protect against cardiovascular disease.
There have been numerous studies and many claims suggesting that tea may be protective against several forms of cancer (including lung, ovarian, breast, prostate, oral and stomach cancers) and gastritis, a pre-cancerous condition. Whilst no study has yet proved conclusive in attempting to explain how tea may have a combative effect upon some cancers, tea and flavonoids have been identified as potential cancer preventative components in animal and in vitro studies. Research is ongoing and provides scientists with an interesting area to explore in the fight to find protection against these conditions.
Drinking tea (without added sugar) has been associated with a number of beneficial effects in preventing tooth decay. Tea plants extract fluoride from the soil, which then accumulate in its leaves. For this reason tea is a very rich natural source of fluoride which is known to help in the prevention of tooth decay. It is accepted that fluoride intake is heavily influenced by tea consumption; beverages (mainly tea) account for approximately 85% of our total fluoride intake, excluding the contribution of fluoride in the water used to make the tea.
Researchers studying dementia, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease found that people who consumed tea had significantly less cognitive decline than non-tea drinkers.
Tea, particularly green and white teas have recently been linked with weight loss in adults. This link has arisen from the basis that tea is thought to have a metabolizing effect upon body fats and therefore prove beneficial to weight loss as part of a weight loss program.
There is also a suggestion that green tea consumption can increase endurance in exercise by improving fat metabolism.
To Summarise it all
In the words of William Gladstone (British Statesman 1809 – 1898) ~ "If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you." ~ Whilst not to be considered as medical evidence, it does reflect how tea brings a sense of health and well-being to us all.