Health Benefits of Tea

Health Benefits of Tea by Gloria Tsang R.D.

Tea is the most commonly consumed beverage in the world after water. Whether it is black, green or red (oolong) tea, they all contain polyphenols which give tea its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants may help protect our body from free radical damage. Indeed, tea ranks as high as or higher than many fruits and vegetables in the ORAC score, a score which measures antioxidant potential of plant-based foods.

Benefits of Tea Numerous studies have demonstrated the anti-cancer properties of polyphenols. Some studies indeed suggested that tea's polyphenols may reduce risk of gastric, esophageal and skin cancers if one consumes 4 to 6 cups daily. Other laboratory studies have found that polyphenols help prevent blood clotting and lower cholesterol levels.

Tea: Black, green or red?

The more processing tea leaves undergo, the darker they will turn. Green tea is the least processed tea. They are simply steamed quickly. Black and red teas are partially dried, crushed and fermented. As we have mentioned before, regardless of the processing method, all teas contain polyphenols.

Tea: Caffeine content

According to the American Dietetic Association, a cup of tea contains an average of 40mg of caffeine, compared to 85mg as found in a cup of freshly brewed coffee.

What about Herbal Tea?

Black, green and red teas derive their leaves from a warm-weather evergreen tree known as Camellia sinensis. The leaves from this tree contains polyphenols. Herbal tea is not derived from this leaf and so does not have this particular health-promoting properties. Indeed, some herbal teas in the market are NOT tea at all. They are only infusions made with herbs, flowers, roots, spices or other parts of some plants. The proper term for this type of beverage is "tisane". Therefore, read the labels properly. Although tisane does not contain as much polyphenols, it does promote other various health qualities such as relaxation and calming effects.

What about Decaf Tea?

We do not know whether decaf teas have the same polyphenols, and thus the same health benefits. It is not yet known if removing caffeine also removes polyphenols in the decaffeinating process.

Key: Tea is a healthy beverage offering many health benefits (if you skip the cream and sugar). Brew your tea for at least 3 - 5 minutes to bring out the beneficial polyphenols. Enjoy the aroma of tea!

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