Health Benefits of Drinking Tea
by Shilpa Amin-Shah, M.D.
Tea has been recognized for thousands of years in the East as a key component to good health. Reseachers and consumers in the West are discovering the many health benefits of different types of teas. The active ingredients in tea, like flavonoids, caffeine, fluoride and theanine, may have positive effects on our body’s functioning.
The teas referred to in this article are leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The manner in which the leaves are processed determines whether you end up with a green, black, white or oolong tea. Tea is a great way to stay hydrated, in addition to also containing a large amount of antioxidants. The most potent antioxidant in tea is known as ECGC, and may help protect against free radicals to fight against cardiovascular disease and other disease processes. All teas also have caffeine and theanine, which heighten mental alertness.
Green teas are the least processed of all teas and contain high amounts of an anti-oxidants, polyphenol, specifically catechin. Green tea has been studied to stave off hunger and is commonly used in weight loss teas. Catechins can help your body catalyze fat burning, turn it into fuel and improve endurance during workouts.
Black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai and instant teas. Black teas are the most processed teas but still contain high amounts of anti-oxidants. Black tea contains polyphenols that slow down the formation of plaque-causing bacteria and help prevent periodontal disease.
Herbal teas are made from herbs, fruits, or roots and have lower concentrations of antioxidants than green, white, black, and oolong teas. Their chemical profiles vary widely depending on the ingredients used. Certain herbal teas are known for their medicinal values, including soothing the digestive system. For example, ginger tea is known to fight nausea. Look for herbal blends that contain marsh mellow root and rose hip which may help decrease gut inflammation. Moringa tea has a high amount of calcium and can help with osteoporosis.
Tea possesses many medicinal properties to help the body hydrate and heal naturally. Western medicine has incorporated various teas as staples into their diets and as therapy. Enjoy a cup of tea with friends and discuss the benefits today!