Tea played a very important part in the making of our beloved America. I cannot touch the subject of tea without first paying homage to our great ancestors that organized the Boston Tea Party.
On the 16th of December 1773, brave men decided to stand up for their rights and fight the unlawful oppression of British Government and Her Royal Hiney. The colonists got fed up with the imposed taxes. They staged a rebellion that turned into a war that led to the independence of the colonies and eventually to the birth of the United States of America, the greatest country in the world. It’s been 242 years and it sure looks like current government forgot these valuable lessons from the past, but this is a topic for another day.
Going back to tea, nowadays, we see it advertised a lot. Tea can be found in 80% of U.S. households. Next to water, it’s the most widely consumed beverage in the world. You can have it hot or iced. On average, on any given day, over 158 million Americans drink tea. The South and Northeast of the U.S. are known to have the largest concentration of tea drinkers. In 2014 alone, Americans consumed over 80 billion servings of tea. That’s well over 3.5 billion gallons.
Generally speaking, everybody knows that tea is good for your health. You could make tea out of a wide variety of herbs and plants, but what we usually refer to as Black, Green, Oolong, Dark and White teas are all coming from the same plant. That is Camellia sinensis.
You get different types of tea depending on processing methods and oxidization. For instance, While Black tea is completely oxidized and Oolong tea is only partially oxidized, Green tea and White tea are not oxidized at all. Dark tea goes through a fermentation process.
Apart from being a refreshing beverage, tea contributes to the body’s overall fluid balance. It doesn’t have any calories, it doesn’t contain sodium, fat, carbonation or sugar. Tea contains flavonoids, catechins and theanine. Tea is known to have a positive effect on heart health, certain cancers, neurological decline, metabolism, obesity, body composition and osteoporosis.
Flavonoids are very effective antioxidants. The oxidization process is known to contribute to development of cancer and heart disease. Flavonols from the plant Camellia sinensis prevent or delay damage caused by reactive oxygen and or reactive nitrogen, which are the most common and dangerous ones. Flavonols include rutin, quercetin and kaempferol.
EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) is the main catechin in Green and Black Teas. It is known to reduce formation of tumors in the lungs, esophagus and on the skin.
Theanine is an amino acid found in tea. Since it can cross the blood-brain barrier, it is known to reduce mental and physical stress and increase levels of serotonin, dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid. All of these are very important to the chemical balance of your brain.
Studies Related to Your Hearth’s Health
Studies done on human consumption of tea have correlated with improved heart health. The benefits range from reducing heart attack risk to lowering Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol levels and can be experienced from only one cup and upwards of six cups of tea per day. Studies have found that participants drinking five cups of black tea per day along with a diet moderately low in fat and cholesterol reduced their LDL cholesterol by about 11% after three weeks.
People who regularly drink three or more cups of black tea per day have reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. A Harvard study revealed that drinking at least one cup of black tea per day reduces heart attack risk by 44%. Black tea was also found to reduce blood pressure and it reduced the negative effects on blood pressure and arterial blood flow of a high-fat meal.
In a large population based study, adults who drank just over two cups of green tea per day reduced their risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 22-23%.
Studies on cancer
Over 3000 studies have correlated tea consumption with reduced risk of a variety of cancers. Drinking tea has a cumulative effect on the gastrointestinal health with increasing returns over years of consumption. EGCG was found to kill cancer cells by targeting their mitochondria. By targeting the cells’ internal battery and energy source, this antioxidant is effective on a variety of cancers in both men and women.
One study found that men drinking above 1.5 cups of tea per day had 70% lower colon cancer risk. Another study on women found a 60% reduced risk of rectal cancer when drinking 2.5 cups of tea per day in comparison to 1.2 cups per day. An additional study found that tea drinkers have reduced colon cancer risk by 42% in comparison to non-tea drinkers.
Drinking iced black tea and citrus peel reduced skin cancer risk by 42%. Drinking hot black tea was found to greatly reduce the risk of the most common form of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma.
Studies on Neurological Decline
Neurological health is closely related to cardiovascular and heart health. Tea may improve the same biomarkers that are responsible for brain, heart and circulatory health.
Theanine was found to affect areas of the brain involved in attention control and complex problem solving. A study done on 30,000 adults showed that drinking at least three cups of tea per day had a 69% reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Theanine was also found to prevent age-related memory decline and protect the brain against Alzheimer’s disease.
Studies on Metabolism, Obesity and Body Composition
Flavonoids in tea have been found to increase metabolic rate, fat oxidation and insulin activity. Tea catechins help improve weight loss and maintenance. Drinking calorie-free tea, meaning no milk, sugar or honey added, helps with weight management.
By drinking at least 2.5 cups of green tea per day, the body’s metabolism burns about 100 extra calories over 24-hours. As one study shows, simply by adding green tea and caffeine to their regular diet helped subjects shed 2.9 pounds over 12 weeks.
Studies on Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis means your bones lose their consistency and durability, making them easier to break. This is a natural age-related symptom and is measured by bone mineral density (BMD). Drinking tea increases BMD and helps build bones and muscle mass. Tea drinkers have a higher BMD than non-tea drinkers.
Polyphenlos in green tea improve bone quality and strength. A study on men and women above 50 years of age correlated drinking tea with 30% reduced risk of hip fractures.
New findings from the international scientific community continue to lend credibility to tea’s healthy properties. Prepared in the home, tea costs about three cents per serving, cup or glass and remains one of the most economical beverages available. Health benefits of regularly drinking tea increase over time and help preserve your body and its functions.
For how long and how often have you been drinking tea? What health benefits can you link with drinking tea?