Debbie J., MS, RD contributed this article –
Looking for something healthy to share and be social with? Why not share a kettle of tea? There are so many health benefits from drinking tea that the positive outcomes are too good to keep to yourself. Plus, partaking in a calming warm cup of tea with a loved one or friend promotes a peaceful Zen-like experience, invites ease of conversation and relaxes the nerves. Here are the main reasons why tea is good for your body:
Whether it’s the compounds in the tea or the ritualistic process of drinking a hot cup, consuming tea promotes stress relief. Black and rooibos teas lower the stress hormone cortisol and people are able to de-stress more quickly after imbibing than without. The teanine in green tea may play a role in reducing stress, though the mechanism isn’t clear.
Weight management – Tea has benefits in obesity prevention, weight loss and weight management. Specifically, a compound in oolong tea helps burn fat as energy and may prevent obesity with chronic consumption. Green tea’s caffeine and catechins increase/stimulate fat oxidation and thermogenesis, providing an anti-obesity effect^. Plus, after losing weight, green may help keep the weight off since its epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) inhibits fat tissue growth by preventing new blood vessel formation in the area.
Cancer prevention – Compounds in tea called polyphenols act in many ways to thwart cancer. Polyphenols can affect the signaling of cancer development, inhibit cell proliferation, and enhance apoptosis (death) of cancer cells. Thus polyphenols act at a chemo-preventive agent.
Anti-inflammatory – Tea’s polyphenols are powerful antioxidants that neutralize reactive oxygen species. Tea protects against oxidative damage. Drinking two cups of green tea daily increased plasma antioxidant activity 10%* over six weeks. Since inflammation is linked to many chronic degenerative diseases, tea’s anti-inflammatory effect may translate to disease prevention.
Heart health – The flavonoids in tea can decrease oxidation of artery linings (endothelium), limit lipid oxidation, and quench free radicals… thus preventing atherosclerosis of coronary arteries. Black tea’s theaflavins may reduce cholesterol levels. Hibiscus tea may lower blood pressure~. Oolong tea catechins may regulate lipoprotein activity. Tea may have anti-thrombogenic action in preventing clot formation and blood platelet activation thereby reducing ischemic heart disease.
Sun damage – Tea’s benefits in solar ultraviolet protection are primarily due to its polyphenol content. Specifically, the EGCG from green tea is photo-protective and lowers DNA damage upon UVA exposure.
Note: Kombucha tea is not a traditional brew. In fact, it is a fermented drink made from sugar, bacteria and yeast in a tea base. Health claims for the acidic effervescent drink abound but research supporting any benefits is sparse. A quick scientific literature review reveals numerous cases and reports of illness from Kombucha tea preparations. Most kombucha drinks contain live bacteria and with 1,000’s of these microorganisms in one cup it is difficult to ascertain whether only the friendly, good bacteria exist in them. Contamination by harmful bacteria is probably minimized in controlled commercial environments but at-home brews carry greater risk with questionable sanitation conditions. There isn’t scientific evidence to support any advantages to health and the documented risks outweigh any possible benefit at this point. We’ll keep our eyes open for more information and share with you any positive news about kombucha.
^Obesity and thermogenesis related to the consumption of caffeine, ephedrine, capsaicin, and green tea. Diepvens, K et al. American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, integrative, and comparative Physiology. 2007 Jan; 292(1): R77-85.
*Effectiveness of moderate green tea consumption on antioxidative status and plasma lipid profile in humans. Erba, Daniela et al. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 2005 Mar;16(3): 144-9.
~Hibiscus sabdariffa L. tea (tisane) lowers blood pressure in prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults. McKay, DL et al. Journal of Nutrition 2010 Feb; 140(2): 298-303.
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