The Most Potent Health Drink Ever by Jean Carper, EatSmart
It's tea time, say intriguing new research
Recent studies in leading medical journals declare tea a potential
heart tonic, cancer blocker, fat buster, immune stimulant,
arthritis soother, virus fighter and cholesterol detoxifier. Not
bad for a lowly shrub soaked in a little hot water.
"Tea is beating all scientific expectations as the most potent
health beverage ever," says researcher John Weisburger at the
American Health Foundation. "The many ways tea can promote health
is truly astonishing."
Bottom line: Each day you should drink three to
six 8-ounce cups of tea. It can be black or green, hot or iced,
decaf or not.
Here's how tea helps your health:
Saves arteries. Drinking black tea helps prevent
deadly clogging of arteries and reverses poor arterial functioning
that can trigger heart attacks and strokes, two major new studies
have found. In a large 10-year study in the Netherlands, men who
consumed the amount of antioxidants called "catechins" found in
three cups of black tea were 50% less likely to die of ischemic
heart disease, caused by narrowed clogged arteries, than were men
who consumed only the catechins in half a cup of tea. In another
recent test, Joseph Vita, M.D., of the Boston University School of
Medicine, had heart patients drink either plain water or four cups
of black tea daily. In a month, impaired blood vessel functioning
(a risk factor for heart attack and strokes) improved about 50% in
the tea drinkers.
Inhibits cancer growth. Tea has long been tied to
a lower risk of stomach, colon and breast cancer, although the
connection is not proven. Now lab studies find that tea chemicals
actually may stop cancer growth. Rutgers University researchers
showed that a compound in black tea called TF-2 caused colorectal
cancer cells to "commit suicide"; normal cells were unaffected.
"The effect is quite dramatic," said Rutgers professor Kuang Yu
Chen, who speculates that the chemical might one day be made into
an anti-cancer drug.
Tames inflammation. Researchers at Case Western
Reserve University gave arthritis-prone mice either green tea or
water. The human equivalent of four cups of green tea daily halved
the mice's risk of developing arthritis. Also intriguing: TF-2, the
newly discovered anti-cancer compound in black tea, suppresses the
Cox-2 gene that triggers inflammation, says research at Rutgers.
That's the same way the drugs Vioxx and Celebrex work. Also, in a
UCLA study of 600 Chinese men and women, drinking green tea halved
the risk of chronic stomach inflammation, which can lead to
Wipes out viruses. Previous tests prove tea can
neutralize germs, including some that cause diarrhea, pneumonia,
cystitis and skin infections. New research by Milton Schiffenbauer
of Pace University finds that black and green tea deactivates
viruses, including herpes. When you drink tea, he says, chances are
good you will wipe out viruses in your mouth. Flu viruses, too?
Possibly. A recent Japanese study showed that gargling with black
tea boosted immunity to influenza. Recent research at Harvard
indicated that tea chemicals stimulated gamma-delta T-cells that
bolster immunity against bacteria and viruses.
Burns calories. Most surprising, 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
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.
Plus: Canadian researchers block cavities in mice
by replacing their water with tea. Indian eye researchers have
retarded cataracts in rats by feeding the animals tea extract.
Israeli scientists block Parkinson's-like brain damage in mice by
giving them green tea extract or pure EGCG. W
For the best benefit ...
Back to Health
- Drink both black and green tea, the regular kind sold in bags
or leaves in grocery stores. Their antioxidants are equal. But
green tea boasts special-acting EGCG.
- Bottled tea and instant tea have few antioxidants, research
- Herbal teas do not have the same health properties as real tea
- Tea with caffeine has slightly more antioxidant activity.
- Steep tea leaves or bags in hot water 3 to 5 minutes to
thoroughly release antioxidants.
- Adding milk to tea does not block absorption of antioxidants,
new Dutch research finds.
- Don't give much tea to kids. Tea "chelates" iron, removing it
from the body. That may help combat chronic disease but can cause
anemia in young people.