Tea drinkers get health boost

Whether it’s chai or red tea, green tea or oolong, the beverage is increasingly replacing coffee in many people’s cups. Experts attribute the interest largely to tea’s more healthful reputation.

“There are some pretty well-substantiated health benefits, particularly related to the green teas,” said Pat Kendall, a food specialist with Colorado State University. More recent research is finding similar benefits with black and red teas, Kendall added.
All three teas contain antioxidants, which, by reducing cell damage, lower the risks of cancer and heart disease, she said. No such health benefits have been found in coffee, Kendall said.In addition to numerous cancer and heart-disease studies, preliminary research suggests that the ancient beverage might tame bad breath, raise good cholesterol and help with weight loss. And for those leery of the approaching flu and cold season, a recent study found tea effective in warding off those bugs.

Most types of tea do have caffeine, though less than coffee, Drisko said. That’s one reason he prescribes tea extracts to patients instead of tea. Green tea contains about 30 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce serving. A similar serving of brewed coffee contains about 135 milligrams.

While there are decaffeinated teas, the less heating and processing done to the tea leaves, the more health benefits they provide, he said. The increasingly popular rooibus tea, a red tea from Africa, has no caffeine, Drisko added.

Tea connoisseurs suggest using loose tea leaves, not the bagged versions, for the highest potential health effect and fuller flavor. The new tea shops sell only loose teas.

Whether tea is loose or bagged, it must be steeped three to five minutes to release the most antioxidants, Kendall said. “That is, quite frankly, longer than I like to brew my tea.”

Consumers converting to tea to forgo the coffee jolt should be aware that caffeine content varies widely in teas, depending on type, where it comes from and how it’s brewed, Drisko said. Chai, for instance, can have 70 milligrams per serving.

Tea steeped in benefits, studies show

A component in tea might prime the body’s immune system, boosting its power to fight bacteria and viruses, including cold and flu bugs. Research found that tea drinkers’ immune systems responded five times faster to germs than did those of coffee drinkers.

Source: Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School

Growth of bad-breath-causing bacteria could be stunted by drinking tea, studies suggest. Researchers believe polyphenols found in green and black tea can block bacteria from producing bad-smelling compounds, such as hydrogen sulfide. Earlier studies have shown that black tea could slow dental-plaque formation.

Source: University of Illinois at Chicago

Green tea could boost energy and aid weight loss without raising heart rates, researchers say. In a study, men given green-tea extract had significant increases in metabolic rates and fat-burning ability, while a group supplemented with caffeine did not.

The study opened the door to green-tea weight-loss products now on the market that tout that they will not raise blood pressure, like many caffeine-containing diet aids can.

(www.tcpalm.com/tcp/health and wellness)