Blowing the Whistle on Tea’s Health Benefits

 

Since tea was first discovered by Chinese Emperor Shen Nung around 2737 BC, it has been consumed as both a beverage and a medicine. Not only is tea soothing and delicious, but research indicates it offers important health benefits as well.

So what makes tea good for the body?  It contains high levels of antioxidants (polyphenols, flavonoids and catechins) that combat cell-damaging free radicals that are linked to cancer causing genes and cause LDL cholestrol to form artery-clogging plaque. The polyphenols in tea have 20-30 times the potency of vitamins C and E. Tea is also an excellent source of important dietary vitamins and minerals, including B1, B2, B6, vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and fluoride.

Tea is currently being studied for boosting immunity, reducing blood pressure, reducing the risk of cancer and stroke, lowering cholestrol, aiding digestion and preventing cavities and gingivitis.

In regards to cardiovascular risk, a meta-analysis by Peters et al in 2001, showed that higher tea consumption can reduce the risk of heart disease.  In fact, some studies are so favorable that the American College of Cardiology Foundation Task Force has recently made a recommendation to include moderate tea intake as part of the nutritional advice given to patients to reduce cardiovascular disease risk.

Other tea research has provided positive data related bone mineral density and osteoporosis, cognitive function and mood, weight management, diabetes and neurophysiological and cognitive functions. Observational data indicates the amino acid L-theanine found almost exclusively in the tea plant actively alters the attention networks of the brain and also suggested that tea can protect aging brains from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Health benefits aside, tea is a zero-calorie beverage and is a logical choice over soda or other flavored or sugar drinks. So put that kettle on and drink up, the wonderful benefits of tea are seen through frequent and consistent consumption.

Terri Bonadio, is the owner of The Tea House Restaurant in Cornelius. She can be reached at 704-896-9813. For more info visit www.the-teahouse.com.

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