Totally Terrific Tea
Can anyone beat the inexpensive, almost calorie-free, disease-preventing beverage called tea? Doubtful. Tea really is awesome, and research suggests the following reasons why:
- Its tannins provide anti-viral activity.
- Polyphenols in tea help strengthen resistance to and perhaps help fight infections including dysentery and chronic hepatitis.
- Fluoride and other chemicals in tea can help prevent cavities from forming by keeping bacteria from sticking to teeth and decreasing bacterial acid production. It also lowers the chances of gum disease developing.
- Their flavonoid polyphenols enhance bone-mineral density. This benefit is strongest among those who consistently drink tea for more than ten years.
- Tea’s catechin (a type of flavonoid) is believed to strengthen capillaries. They also lower the LDL (bad) cholesterol level and help keep plaque from forming on the lining of arteries.
- Catechins also have cancer-fighting properties.
- The phenols in tea are powerful antioxidants – chemicals that counteract the oxygen-free radicals that cause so many diseases. This is one way they may prevent some types of cancer such as gastrointestinal and lung cancers.
Another way that phenols may decrease cancer risk is by preventing sodium nitrite and nitrate (found in cured meats like bacon) from combining with amines to form the powerful group of carcinogens called nitrosamines. Amines are common chemicals so this is no small threat to health. While vitamins C and E can prevent nitrosamine formation, the polyphenols in tea and coffee can also provide this protection and in amounts they are normally consumed.
To have a significant decrease in cancer risk, it may be necessary to drink as much as four cups a day of tea. The caffeine level is less than with coffee; how long it’s steeped affects that.
If you’re ready to increase your consumption of tea, keep in mind:
- Brewed tea has more health benefits than instant tea
- Steep tea at least three if not five minutes; don’t drink it when it’s very hot
- Try to drink organic tea because tea may be sprayed with pesticides
- Probable tea benefits are from black, green, white and oolong tea – herbal teas don’t contain all the phytochemicals discussed in this article
- Green tea has the most benefits, decaffeinated has fewer
- Tea can decrease absorption of iron from plant and it can worsen ulcers.
- This article is not meant to replace the care of your health care provider.