Laboratory Studies have shown that tea stops tumors from forming. It prevents heart disease and stroke. And tea has clout against cavities. It is a cup of good health.
Tea contains hundreds of compounds called polyphenols.
These compounds act as antioxidants. That is, they help neutralize harmful oxygen molecules in the body known as free radicals, which have been linked to cancer, heart disease, and a number of less serious problems, such as wrinkles.
“In general, polyphenols are very good antioxidants, But the best polyphenols are in tea, which contains a lot of them,” according to Joe A. Vinson, PHD, professor of analytical chemistry at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.”They make up nearly 30% of tea’s dry weight.” This may help explain why tea is the most popular beverage in the world.
Protection of the arteries
The results of blocked arteries, like high blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke, don’t happen all at once. They are usually preceded by years of steadily increasing damage, in which dangerous low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol oxidizes and gradually makes arteries stiff and narrow.
Tea can help against this problem. Polyphenols in tea are extremely effective in preventing cholesterol from oxidizing blood vessels. In fact, one of the polyphenols in tea, epigallocatechin (EGCG), was able to neutralize five times as much LDL cholesterol as vitamin C, the strongest of the antioxidant vitamins.
The reason why the polyphenols in tea are so effective for good health is that they can work in two places at once. They block the harmful effects of oxidized LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream and at the artery walls, where LDL really produces atherosclerosis, says Dr. Vinson.
In a Dutch study of 880 men, researchers found that those who ate the most flavonoids, a large phytochemical family that includes polyphenol in tea, had a 58% lower risk of dying from heart disease than those who ate the least. When they analyzed the results further, it was revealed that the healthiest men were those who were getting more than half their flavonoids from black tea, with onions and apples contributing most of the rest.
You don’t need to drink lots of tea to get the benefits. In the Dutch study, the healthiest men drank about 4 cups of tea per day.
Just as the tea protect arteries leading from the heart, it has a similar effect on arteries in or leading to the brain, says Dr. Vinson.
A new Japanese study found that people who drank at least 5 cups of green tea daily had a whopping 62% lower risk of having a stroke from clotting arteries. According to experts, antioxidants in green tea help sticky cells that clump together to form clots, called platelets, to slide safely past each other. When there are no clots, there are no strokes.
When you grill a hamburger, compounds called heterocyclic amines to form on the surface of the food. These chemicals are transformed in the body into more dangerous forms, which can cause cancer, according to John Weisburger, MD, PhD, vice president for research and director of the Naylor Dana Institute for Disease Prevention, in New York,
Tea compounds called polyphenols help to prevent the formation of potential carcinogens, Dr. Weisburger says. In other words, they help stop cancer before it starts.
Cancer researcher Hasan Mukhtar, PhD, of the department of dermatology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, has seen tea stop cancer at each stage of its life cycle, arresting both its growth and spread. And where cancerous tumors have already formed, he has seen tea shrink them.
Dr. Mukhtar studied the effect of sunburn skin on laboratory animals and found that the animals given tea developed one-tenth as many tumors as those given water. Even when the tea-treated animals developed tumors, they were often benign, not cancerous. What’s more, tea was equally effective whether given as a drink or applied to the skin. Some cosmetics companies have started adding green tea to skin products for its potential protective benefits.
Tea can help prevent toothache since it contains numerous compounds, polyphenols as well as tannin, that act as antibiotics. In other words, tea is great for mopping up the bacteria that promote tooth decay.
Tea also contains fluoride, which provides further dental protection. When researchers at Forsyth Dental Center in Boston tested a variety of foods for their antibacterial qualities, they found that tea was far and away the most protective.
Japanese researchers at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan, have identified four components in tea – tannin, catechin, caffeine, and tocopherol ( a vitamin E-like substance) – that help to increase the acid resistance of tooth enamel. This quartet of compounds was made even more effective with the addition of extra fluoride. The extra boost made tooth enamel 98% impervious to the action of acids on the teeth.
Tea of different colors
You can have Green tea, Black tea, Vanilla maple tea, Raspberry tea, Black currant tea, Apricot tea. Which tea has the most healing polyphenols? It doesn’t matter, as long as it is real tea and not herbal tea. Which doesn’t contain leaves from Camellia sinensis, the tea plant, there is very little difference among them. They all contain leaves from the same plant.
They are not identical, however. The lightest leaves, green and white, are minimally-processed and, in general, retain more disease-protective polyphenols and other antioxidants. But darker teas contain healthy theaflavins, which form when their polyphenols ferment and turn orange-red.
Here follows an overview of the various “real” teas.
The color refers to the leaves, the beverage is deep amber. Black tea varieties include Darjeeling and Earl Grey; flavors range from spicy to flowery. Black tea may lower the risk of heart disease and colon cancer; it can also inhibit bacteria that cause cavities and bad breath.
If you find the flavor to “grassy”, try jewel green matcha or Japanese sencha. Green tea has been shown in numerous studies to help prevent many kinds of cancer, lower cholesterol and boost immunity.
Midway between green and black tea in color, flavor, and antioxidant action, oolong has a fresh floral or fruity aroma. Drinking three cups a day may help relieve itchy skin rashes.
This dark red tea has an earthy flavor reminiscent of coffee and tobacco. It’s considered a delicacy in China ( you can purchase it online), where it’s processing is a highly guarded secret. The most oxidized of teas, pu’ehr is said to mellow and improve with age, like wine. It may help reduce cholesterol.
Rare and somewhat expensive, the least processed tea has an extremely subtle flavor. But it does contain more antioxidants than other teas. Test-tube studies show that it can block DNA mutations (which trigger tumor formation). A study on rats discovered it prevented precancerous colon tumors.
How to get the most
Steep for three minutes It takes three minutes for it to release the good health-promoting compounds. That’s also the time researchers use in their studies on tea. Longer steeping causes the tea to go bitter.
Use tea bags. The pulverized content of tea bags releases more polyphenols than the larger loose leaves. That’s because the tiny particles in the bag yield more surface area for polyphenols to dissolve into hot water.
Choose your flavors
Although green tea has been more thoroughly researched than the black variety, both kinds show equally salutary effects, says DR. Vinson. If you prefer decaffeinated tea, that’s okay. The removal of caffeine has little effect on tea’s polyphenol content. The same holds for bottled teas, iced tea, and tea made from mixes. In fact, some soft drinks and juice companies have been so impressed with the benefits of tea that they have begun fortifying their beverages with green tea. Check out your good health food store for new products.
Don’t use milk – at least for now
According to an Italian study, adding milk to tea, as the British do, blocked tea antioxidant benefits. “There is some evidence that milk protein binds to some of the tea compounds and blocks their absorption. But those compounds could get unbound in the stomach. So we’re not so sure milk is bad,” says Dr. Vinson.
Keep it fresh
If you make your own iced tea, drink it within a few days. “And make sure you cover it to keep it fresh when you refrigerate it,” he advises. When you keep iced tea for longer than a week, the concentration of compounds falls off. Many bottled and powdered iced teas remain spectacular antioxidant levels. In one prevention magazine analyses of antioxidants in various commercial iced teas, even the lowest-scoring convenience iced teas contained at least as many antioxidants as fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries and spinach! But highest honors went to home-made iced tea- cold-brewed refrigerator and classic hot-brewed tea that was then chilled came in even with each other for antioxidant levels. (One tip: shake cold-brewed tea before removing tea bags. It seems to knock more antioxidants into the liquid.)
Have tea with meat
Since the polyphenol compounds in tea help to block the formation of cancer-causing chemicals, it’s a good idea to have a cup of tea after eating fried or charred meat.
Doctor’s top tip
When you are a sneezer, drink more green tea, It may be useful against a wide range of sneeze- starting allergens, including pollen, pet dander, and dust. Go for two to three mugs a day.
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