WHAT IS IN YOUR TEA CUP? EVIDENCE BASED HEALTH BENEFITS OF TEASReading Time: 5 minutes
Tea is a timeless beverage that has been consumed since the ancient times, either for its health benefits or for relaxation. Tea often refers to all derivatives of Camella sinensis which include green tea, white, black and oolong tea. Other kinds of tea such as chai, Jasmine, fennel, chamomile tea and so on are infusions of herbs, fruits, flowers and spices.
Green tea is produced from fresh leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis. It is high in epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a catechin antioxidant effective at fighting inflammation, preventing DNA and tissue damage from free radical damage. It also protects against atherosclerosis and heart diseases.
Green tea contains caffeine. Caffeine improves mental alertness, increases body metabolism, fat oxidation and promotes weight loss.
Research studies document its anti cancer benefits. EGCG in green tea prevents growth of cancer cells, induce their death and prevent cancer cells from spreading to other areas in the body.
Be cautious when buying green tea as some poorly processed teas may contain fluoride which is harmful.
Habitual consumption of Oolong tea promotes teeth and bone health. A research review by Nash et al found oolong to increase bone mineral density (BMD) and reduced the risk of fracture. This is particularly beneficial to postmenopausal women at risk of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fracture.
Oolong tea contains caffeine and polyphenols that promote weight loss by boosting metabolism, burn calories, decrease fat absorption from your diet.
It is rich in antioxidants that prevent damage to the tissues, heart disease. Polyphenols found in oolong tea may also prevent cancer.
Oolong may have anti-allergic benefits, according to a study published in JAMA Dermatology. The study participants all had recalcitrant atopic dermatitis and consumed oolong tea three time a day after meals for 6 months. After 1 month on oolong tea, 63% of them showed significant improvement of their conditions.
Polyphenols in oolong tea may prevent diabetes via blood sugar reduction and improved insulin sensitivity.
This rare tea is rich in antioxidants such as polyphenols, flavonoids and tannins. It is known for its naturally sweet taste with fruity undertones.
Similar to other teas in the Camilia sinensis family, it has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, promote weight loss, lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, it protect the tissues from damage by free radicals. It has antibacterial benefits.
It is also good for the skin. It has been reported to repair and protect the skin from damaging effects of the sun and reduced risk of skin cancers.
According to a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, white tea may improve reproductive health in men.
Plus, given its light color it will not stain your teeth as other teas.
This tea is also derived from Camellia sinensis. The main bioactive compounds in black tea are polyphenols: theaflavins and thearubigins. These compounds have antimicrobial, anti-diabetic, anti-cancer benefits. Black tea also prevents alcohol induced pancreatitis.
According to a study in the Journal of Nutrition, black tea may lower total and LDL (low density lipoprotein) ‘bad’ cholesterol in individuals with mild elevation in blood cholesterol.
Black tea may act as a probiotic, promoting gut health by encouraging the growth and survival of the good bacteria in the intestines. It also inhibits the growth of some bacteria that cause diseases such as Salmonella and H. pylori..
Roibos (Red) Tea
This flavorful red tea native to South Africa is widely gaining popularity all over the world as a healthy beverage. It is processed from the shrub Aspalathus linearis. It is unrelated to green or black tea (Camellia sinensis), however, green rooibos tea does exist.
It is rich in antioxidants Aspalathin and Nothoagin. These antioxidants may prevent diabetic complications due to vascular inflammation associated with high glucose levels, in individuals with poorly controlled diabetes, according to a study by Ku et al.
Rooibos tea also has antihypertensive benefits, mimicking the actions of a class of commonly prescribed antihypertensive; angiotensin converting enzymes inhibitors. Researchers report that, this reduction in blood pressure occurs after about 30 mins to 1 hour after consuming about 400mls of rooibos tea.
The antioxidants found in Rooibos tea has anti-cancer benefits, lowers blood sugar, improves insulin resistance and prevents heart disease.
It is safe to consume overal, however, it may increase the female hormone; estrogen. The implication is that individuals with hormone sensitive conditions such as ovarian or breast cancer, fibroids may have to be cautious about consuming this tea.
Chamomile tea is popular for its soothing and sleep inducing effects. The main bioactive compounds in chamomile tea include the flavonoids apigenin, quercetin, patuletin and luteolin.
It lowers blood sugar in diabetics by preventing the actions of the enzymes; amylase and maltase found in the intestine, responsible for the digestion of carbohydrates. This inhibition prevents spike in blood sugar after meals.
New mothers with postpartum depression and/or sleep disturbance may benefit from the soothing effects of chamomile tea. Chamomile tea can be used in infants to relieve colic, fever, diarhea. Infants can consume from 1/2 – 2 cups. Note that it may contain trace amounts of botulism and should not be given to infants less than 3-6 months.
It relaxes muscles in the body and may help reduce night time twitching, menstrual cramps, settle an upset stomach and relieve stress and anxiety.
It fights against upper respiratory tract infection especially cold and flu.
It has several cosmetic benefits too. It may be used to restore damaged hair, fight off dandruff, and is capable of lightening the hair color after using a cold infusion to wash your hair. It is effective against eczema. It has been used in times past to disinfect wounds, burns and scrapes.
Fennel tea is popular for aiding digestion and keeping bowel movement regular. It does this by relaxing the smooth muscles of the intestines. It reduces bloating, flatulence and cramps. It is especially beneficial to individuals with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It can relieve colic in infants.
According to a 2012 study, fennel tea relaxes the smooth muscles of the uterus and may relieve menstrual cramps and pains.
It has antioxidant benefits; prevents atherosclerosis, cell damage and protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.