Regarded for thousands of years in the East as a key to good health, happiness, and wisdom, tea has caught the attention of researchers in the West, who are discovering the many health benefits of different types of teas. Studies have found that some teas may help with cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; encourage weight loss; lower cholesterol; and bring about mental alertness. Tea also appears to have antimicrobial qualities.
“There doesn’t seem to be a downside to tea,” says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman KatherineTallmadge, MA, RD, LD. “I think it’s a great alternative to coffee drinking. First, tea has less caffeine. It’s pretty well established that the compounds in tea – their flavonoids – are good for the heart and may reduce cancer.”
All these teas also have caffeine and theanine, which affect the brain and seem to heighten mental alertness.
The more processed the tea leaves, usually the less polyphenol content. Polyphenols include flavonoids. Oolong and black teas are oxidized or fermented, so they have lower concentrations of polyphenols than green tea; but their antioxidizing power is still high.
Here’s what some studies have found about the potential health benefits of tea:
A 2011 study in the Journal Obesity found that mice fed a high fat diet and given compounds found in green tea gained weight at a slower rate than mice that were not fed the same compounds. The findings from this study suggest that green tea extracts may actually interfere with fat formation in the body. As a side note: green tea extracts should not be confused with bottled green tea drinks that may be full of added sugar. To get green tea extracts, opt for the real deal — boiling water with a good old-fashioned teabag or loose tea!
The eye, like any part of the body, can suffer oxidative stress — making it more prone to disease. What if you could just add some green tea to your daily diet regimen to combat this? A 2010 study found that components in green tea positively affected the tissues of the eyes, especially tissue related to the retina. Drink on green tea lovers and protect your precious eyeballs!