The Health Benefits of Tea
By Michelle Gelok, RD • August 4th, 2010 • 8705 Views
Though it may sound too good to be true, there is a beverage that not only has more antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables, studies have shown that it may even prevent cancer, boost heart health and offer protection against arthritis. Even more surprising is that it contains zero calories and costs less than twenty cents per cup. Wondering how you can get your hands on this super beverage? Chances are it’s already in your kitchen cupboard.
Tea is one of the world’s most popular prepared drinks, and with good reason. It’s affordable, widely available and has a long list of reported health benefits. If you’ve not an avid tea drinker, you may want to consider adding it to your diet, as even small amounts have been shown to have health benefits.
There are four types of tea; black, white, green and oolong, all of which come from the Camellia sinensis plant that is grown in tropical climates. The main difference between the four types of tea has to do with how the leaves are processed. White tea is derived from the young, new leaves of the tea plant, while green, black and oolong teas are made from the more mature leaves. While green tea is processed before the leaves are allowed to oxidize and ferment, black and oolong tea are made from dried and crushed fermented leaves, resulting in a much darker colour and richer flavor.
As for herbal tea and the popular South African red Rooibos tea – neither one actually contains leaves from the Camellia plant – instead they are made from a blend of herbs, flowers, spices and roots of a variety of plants. More accurately called tisane, these two beverages don’t contain the same health benefits of black, white, green and oolong tea.
Tea is rich in potent disease fighting compounds called catechins, which act as antioxidants to prevent and repair damage to the cells of the body. While it doesn’t often get touted as such, tea is actually one of the best sources of antioxidants in the diet. In fact, it’s estimated that a cup of brewed tea has a higher antioxidant capacity than carrots, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.
It doesn’t come as a surprise then to learn that this humble beverage has a long list of reported health benefits, including reducing the risk of cancer, protecting against heart disease, lowering cholesterol and protecting against cavities. While...
health benefits of tea