Tea for Life
Top 8 health reasons to have more tea in your life
You’ve been hearing for a long time that tea is good for you, but have you wondered about all the reasons? There is a lot of research behind the proven health benefits of tea that comes from the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). Teas from this much studied plant include green tea, black tea, white tea and oolong tea. As long as the Camellia sinensis tea leaf is what you’re drinking you’ll be getting proven health benefits relating to heart health, brain health and weight management just to name a few. In addition, all teas including herbal tea blends can help with hydration and relaxation.
Secret compound = flavonoids
Did you know that the tea plant is rich in antioxidant like compounds called flavonoids? In fact tea contains 750 times more flavonoids than coffee!
Flavonoids are active dietary compounds naturally found in plants that can function as antioxidants but researchers are finding benefits that go well beyond. A diet rich in flavonoids can protect through antioxidant activity and provide anti-inflammatory benefits as well. Scientists suggest that tea’s positive health effects are linked to its high flavonoid content.
Protect your Heart
The strongest evidence for tea’s health benefits is for heart health, and it’s attributed to the high level of flavonoids in both black and green teas. Flavonoids can act as antioxidants and prevent oxidation of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, reduce blood clotting and improve widening of blood vessels in the heart. Studies that looked at the relationship of black tea intake and heart health reported decreased incidence of heart attack, lower cholesterol levels and significantly lower blood pressure1.
Lower your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a risk factor of disease and small decrease in blood pressure from dietary changes may have significant benefits. Researchers are finding that tea’s natural plant compounds called flavonoids have powerful health benefits that help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, which in turn helps reduce the chance of heart disease and stroke. In a recent study scientists in Australia found that regular consumption of 3 cups of black tea a day can result in significantly lower blood pressure2.
Boost your Mood and Stay Alert
Drinking tea can improve attention and some people find it allows them to be more focused on the task at hand. In a recent study, subjects who drank tea produced more accurate results during a task that required focused attention and also felt more alert than subjects who drank a placebo that did not contain tea. These effects were found for two to three cups of tea consumed within 90 minutes. It is thought that caffeine and the amino acid theanine, both present in tea, contribute to many of tea’s psychological benefits3
Brain Health – Tea may help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease!
Age-related declines in memory and cognition occur naturally, but research suggests that modifiable factors, such as diet and exercise may help slow its progression. Healthier blood vessels create better blood flow, which means all organs, including the brain benefit. Beyond the ability of flavonoids to help maintain blood flow, researchers are also finding flavonoids can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease!4 An antioxidant in green tea called EGCg may help to protect the brain against developing Alzheimer’s disease. EGCg decreases the production of a protein called beta amyloid, which can form into insoluble plaque and degrade nerve cells in the brain. The interplay between vascular health and Alzheimer diseases is an important area of research5.
Manage your Weight
Obesity is the largest public health concern in North America and there are few strategies that provide long-term success. New research on tea catechins suggests that they may help maintain body weight or promote weight loss6. The December 2013 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published 12 studies, including those showing that tea has been found to help promote weight loss. Preliminary research suggests that tea flavonoids help elevate metabolic rate, increase fat oxidation and improve insulin activity. Tea catechins can also provide modest shifts in metabolism that may improve weight loss and maintenance.
In addition, when monitoring calorie intake for weight loss, many of us forget to check our liquid calories which can add up quickly. Did you know that tea is 99% water and is a natural, zero calorie beverage? No wonder it’s the second most consumed beverage around the world after water!
Staying well hydrated is important for maintaining optimal health and water is recommended by health professionals as a healthy choice. Tea, like water, also helps your body stay hydrated, contributes to optimal physical and mental performance and most importantly, helps you eat less if you drink before and during meals!
Relax and Refresh
Did you know that stress affects your heart health? So put your worries aside and start sipping! Tea is a refreshing and relaxing drink and is considered to be part of a healthy lifestyle. Taking a break with a soothing hot drink can help you relax and reduce stress.
It’s easy to brew a terrific cup of tea, either from loose leaf tea or tea bags.
Keep Caffeine in Check
Caffeine is a natural compound and is considered safe when consumed in moderation. Although tea contains some caffeine, it’s 66% less than found in an equal sized serving of coffee, but still enough to provide the cognitive benefits. In a cup (250 ml) of tea there is about 45 mg of caffeine versus a cup of coffee which has 142 mg caffeine. Since Health Canada recommends that adults limit their caffeine intake to no more than 400 mg/day, this means you can enjoy about 8 cups tea a day OR 2 cups of coffee a day to stay within the limit. Enjoy herbal teas or decaffeinated teas if you want to limit caffeinated beverages.
1. The Health Benefits of Tea, Neva Cochran, MS, RD, LD Joanna Pruess Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics February 04, 2014
2. Hodgson JM, Croft KD. Tea flavonoids and cardiovascular health. Mol Aspects Med 2010 December; 31(6):495-502.
3. Einöther,S et al Acute effects of tea consumption on attention and mood, © 2013 American Society for Nutrition http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/98/6/1700S.full
4. Williams et al, Flavonoids, cognition and dementia: Actions, mechanisms, and potential therapeutic utility for Alzheimer disease, Free Radical Biology & Medicine 52, 2012, 35-45
5. American Heart Association Scientific Statement, Stroke, 2011, 42:2672-2713
6. Fifth International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Human Health, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) December 2013; 98(6): 1601S – 1708S