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Is Tea Healthier than Water?
Adapted from Linus Pauling Institute, June 2000
Aside from water, tea is the most popular drink consumed worldwide. Water is good for you. But the following properties give tea health benefits that go far beyond the benefits of water:
The primary biologically active ingredients of tea are powerful antioxidants known as catechins. Antioxidants counteract free radicals in the body, which are thought to contribute to cancer.
Essential oils develop during the production process from the active substances in the leaf and give tea much of its aroma and fragrance. Many essential oils are thought to have a wide range of potential health benefits and are thought to aide in digestion.
Vitamins and Nutrients
Vitamin C makes an impressive appearance in green teas. In general, two small cups of green tea have as much Vitamin C as a large glass of orange juice. Tea is also a good source of manganese, potassium, niacin, folic acid and most teas contain trace amounts of Vitamins B1, B2 and K.
Drinking three or more cups of tea a day is as good for you as drinking plenty of water and may even have extra health benefits, say researchers. This conclusion from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition dispels the common belief that tea dehydrates. Tea not only re-hydrates as well as water does, but it can also protect against heart disease and some cancers, UK nutritionists found. Experts believe flavonoids are the key ingredient in that promote health.
Summary of Health Benefits of Tea
The antioxidant properties of tea are thought to have an effect against cancer by inhibiting formation of cancer causing substances. This is on of the most important and widely studied areas of the health benefits of tea. Tea consumption has long been tied to a lower risk of stomach, colon and breast cancer. Rutgers University researchers showed that a compound in black tea called TF-2 caused colorectal cancer cells to die, while leaving normal cells were unaffected. "The effect is quite dramatic." said a Rutgers professor Kuang Yu Chen, who speculates that the chemical might one day be made into an anti-cancer drug.
Polyphenols have been shown to help increase the white blood cell count, which is responsible for fighting infection. The high vitamin C content found in green tea also contributes, as it is a well studied and accepted use in helping prevent and fight colds.
Cardiovascular research suggest that a diet rich in the antioxidants found in tea is able to prevent heart disease and stoke. The tea constituents have been shown to stimulate the circulatory system, to strengthen the blood vessels and to decrease the cholesterol level in the blood stream.
Essential oils and polyphenols aid digestion by increasing the flow of digestive juices. Drinking tea during or after a high-cholesterol meal has been show to lower the increase in the fat content of the blood.
Green tea's antioxidant EGCG stimulates the body to burn calories, notably fat. In a Swiss study, a daily dose of 270mg EGCG (the amount in 2 to 3-5 cups of green tea) caused men to burn 4% more energy - about 80 extra calories a day. Green tea did not increase heart rate, and the calorie burning was not due to caffeine.
Teeth and Bones
Many dentists recommend drinking tea because its rich in fluorides, a mineral that strengthens both tooth enamel and bones in fight against osteoporosis. The polyphenols in tea are shown to affect the bacteria in the mouth, thereby reducing the formation of plaque.
Germicide and Antibacterial
Tea has also been long known for neutralizing germs, including some that cause diarrhea, pneumonia, cholera, typhoid, dysentery cystitis, and skin infections. Its antibacterial properties help to inhibit certain throat infections.
Tea contains compounds that have long been known to reduce inflammation and help arthritis. TF-2, the newly discovered anti-cancer compound in black tea, has been found to suppress the Cox-2 gene that triggers inflammation. That's the same way the drugs Vioxx and Celebrex work. Also, in a UCLA study, drinking green tea was found to decrease the risk of chronic stomach inflammation, which can lead to cancer, by 50%.
For the best benefit drink loose leaf black and green tea. Their antioxidants are equal, but green tea boasts special-acting EGCG. Bottled tea and instant tea have few antioxidants, research shows. In the case of Mighty Leaf teas, both loose and pouch are of the highest quality and both make a great choice for those conscious of including high quality teas as a part of their daily diet. Click here for more about Mighty Leaf Loose Teas, and click here for more on Mighty Leaf Tea Pouches.
Don't Forget the Water And remember to use good water when you brew your tea. The quality of tea is affected by the quality of water used to prepare it. Using filtered or bottled water is best. If possible, avoid brewing tea with tap, distilled or mineral water. Never over-boiling water, as it results in flat-tasting tea.
References: The Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University.