Miracle Foods: Tea

Tea is the most popular beverage in the world after water. People have been drinking tea for thousands years and recently a lot of studies has confirmed that drinking tea is extremely beneficial for our health.

tea(65476)Credit: wikipedia

Tea has more than 4000 different chemical compounds. The ones that have been studied extensively and been proved beneficial are polyphenols called “flavanoids”. The same compounds are found in red wine and berries. Flavonoids act like antioxidants, so they help to reduce harmful effect of free radicals.( Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that attack healthy cells anywhere in your body, causing aging, wrinkles, and more serious problems like cancer and heart disease.)  You can find polyphenols in other foods as well, but tea has a lot of them: polyphenols make up almost 30% of dry tea’s weight. The most potent substance is called epigallocatechin  gallate (EGCG), which belongs to a group of flavonoids known as catechins. (You probably heard about EGCG from commercials on TV.) This particular compound was found to be 20 times more potent than vitamin C.

 Even green tea is credited with majority of benefits, all true varieties are good for you. True tea (including white, yellow, green, black, oolong and fermented) comes from one plant: the evergreen Camellia sinensis. The differences come from the different methods of fermenting tea leaves after harvesting.  Green and white tea are less fermented, black is the most fermented and oolong is in between. Herbal tea, which also can be very beneficial, are not really tea, they are infusions of different herbs or other plants.

Tea consumption can help prevent the formation of potential carcinogens, that can cause stomach, breast, prostate, lung and other cancers. Even more, research shows that tea can stop cancer at its early stage, arresting its growth and spread. Some of the tea health benefits could be credited to its caffeine content. Caffeine has been rehabilitated lately and it seems that caffeine can have antimutagenic  properties, which can also help fighting cancer.

4 cups of black tea a day can reduce your risk of dying from heart disease by 58%. Flavonoids, particularly EGCG, are able to neutralize bad cholesterol and prevent it from sticking to your blood arteries.

 Drinking tea can help you avoid cavities as well as gum disease, tooth sensitivity and tooth dacay. Tea contains fluoride that inhibits cavities from developing; it also contains tannins that act  as antibiotics, so tea clears up bacteria that promote decay. In addition to fluoride, tannins, caffeine and flavonoids, tea also has tocopherol (a vitamin E-like chemical); all together they help to increase teeth’s acid resistance, preventing enamel’s destruction.

There are still a lot of studies go on, but there is some evidence that drinking tea can prevent cataracts, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, osteoporosis and sunlight damage (such as wrinkles, brown spots and skin cancer) and diabetis. Also good news for smokers – tea can offset some damages done by smoking.

Tea is cheap and can be found anywhere. Next time, instead of fizzy drink, have some iced tea. There is no calories in unsweetened tea and it is recommended by dietitians and nutritionists right after water.

So, let’s drink some tea!

To get the most of your tea, here some tips:

  1. Drinking freshly brewed stuff is best. a hot cup of freshly brewed tea delivers 20 times more antioxidants than bottles varieites.
  2. Brew it for about 3 min. It seems to be enough time for tea to release all its health-promoting compounds without getting too bitter.
  3. Don’t disregard a tea bag. Even all tea fans swear by loose tea, teabags actually realize more polyphenols  than loose leaves. Squeeze the bag after brewing, it can almost double the amount of beneficial compounds.
  4. Hold the milk. Milk can block tea’s antioxidant qualities.
  5. Keep it fresh. If you make iced tea, try to consume it in couple days.
  6. Use a wedge of lemon or lime to boost the benefits.