TEA:Other Healthy Beverage Options
After water, tea is the most commonly consumedbeverages on the planet. They are brimming with antioxidants, flavonoids, andother biologically active substances that may be good for health.
-Research suggests that drinking at least threecups of either black or green tea per day reduces the risk of stroke andcancer.
-Some teas tastesweet to the palate without added sugar: Try fruit-flavored herbal teas, orteas with cinnamon or vanilla.
The key to tea: Antioxidants
Polyphenols arelikely the key component to what makes tea a healthy drink. These chemicalcompounds act as antioxidants, which fight against free radicals in the body.Free radicals can alter DNA by stealing its electrons, and this mutated DNA canincrease LDL cholesterol or alter cell membrane traffic – both harmful to ourhealth. Though green tea is often considered higher in polyphenols than blackor oolong (red) teas, studies show that – with the exception of decaffeinatedtea – all teas have about the same levels of these chemicals, albeit indifferent proportions.
While theantioxidant action of tea is promising, some research suggests that the proteinand possibly the fat in milk may reduce the antioxidant capacity of tea.Flavonoids, the antioxidant component in tea, are known to bind to proteins and“de-activate,” so this theory makes scientific sense.
One study thatanalyzed the effects of adding skimmed, semi-skimmed, and whole milk to teaconcluded that skimmed milk significantly reduced the antioxidant capacity oftea. The fattier milks also reduced the antioxidant capacity of tea, but to alesser degree. Overall, it’s important to keep in mind that tea – even tea withmilk – is a healthy drink. To reap the full antioxidant benefits of tea,however, it may be best to skip the milk.
Three big benefits of tea:
1. Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
Polyphenols, theantioxidants abundant in tea, have been shown to reduce the risk of death dueto cardiovascular disease , including stroke. In one study of 77,000 Japanesemen and women, green tea and oolong tea consumption was linked with lower riskof death from cardiovascular disease. Other large-scale studies show that blacktea also contributes to heart health, with research suggesting that drinking at least three cups of eitherblack or green tea per day appears to reduce the risk of stroke by 21 percent.The study also stated that drinking tea may be one of the most significantchanges a person can make to reduce his or her risk of stroke.
2. Protection from cancer
Research showsbenefits for a variety of types of cancer, including ovarian and digestivesystem cancers. Green tea might also have a positive effect in reducing risk ofbreast, prostate, and endometrial cancers, though more evidence is needed.
3. Reduced risk of high blood pressure
In a study ofgreen and oolong tea consumption, regular consumption for one year reduced therisk of developing hypertension. Long-term regular consumption of blacktea has also been shown to lower blood pressure.
Beware the bottle.Avoid purchasing expensive bottledteas or teas in coffee shops that contain added sweeteners. To enjoy themaximum benefits of drinking tea, consider brewing your own at home. You canserve it hot, or make a pitcher of home-brewed iced tea during warmer months.
Though furtherresearch is needed to confirm the benefits, recent studies show that teaholds promise in preventing cardiovascular disease, cancer, and hypertension –and that there are no serious risks associated with drinking it. So pick acolor and pour a cup to maximize the health benefits.