By Dr. Eugene Brink
Millions of people around the world sip tea each day because they like the taste of it. Rarely do most of them ponder the myriad proven and potential health benefits it offers us.
“There doesn’t seem to be a downside to tea,” says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Katherine Tallmadge. “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.”
Julie Edgar writes on the medical advice website WebMD that even though many questions remain about how long tea needs to be steeped for the most benefit, and how much you need to drink, nutritionists all agree that any tea is good tea.
So how do the respective teas benefit you from a wellness point-of-view? Let’s examine this.
As one of the traditional teas, white tea is loaded with polyphenols. These render antioxidant benefits and protect the body against free radicals, which could have wreaked havoc in the body in the form of chronic inflammation and a weakened immune system, says Dr Ryan Raman, a contributor to leading medical advice website Healthline.com.
Edgar says research has shown that white tea has the most anticancer properties compared to more processed teas. Moreover, it helps to protect your teeth. It is a rich source of fluoride, catechins and tannins and this combination strengthens teeth by combatting bacteria, dental cavities and plaque, and the effects of sugar.
This is the traditional tea with the highest caffeine content. According to Edgar, studies have shown that black tea may protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It may also reduce the risk of stroke, she says.
“Black tea contains polyphenols, which are also antioxidants that help block DNA damage associated with tobacco or other toxic chemicals. These antioxidants are different from those obtained from fruits and vegetables and therefore, as a regular part of our diet they can provide additional benefits towards a healthy lifestyle,” Vibha Dhawan writes on Lifehack.com.
Dhawan further states that, based on a research study conducted of elderly people living in the Mediterranean islands, it was found that people who had been consuming black tea on a long-term basis on a moderate level (1-2 cups a day) had a 70% lower chance of having or developing type 2 diabetes.
Also, it aids your relaxation. Studies show that amino acid L-theanine found in black tea can help you relax and concentrate better. Dhawan says black tea has also been shown to reduce the levels of the stress hormone cortisol when consumed in moderate amounts on a regular basis.
Edgar says green tea’s antioxidants “may interfere with the growth of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic and colorectal cancers, prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, reduce risk of stroke, and improve cholesterol levels”.
Amy Hopkins writes on Health24.com that green tea fights ageing. “Because green tea helps fight inflammation and slows the ageing of cells (thanks antioxidants!), it can lessen wrinkle development and make your skin appear brighter and younger.”
A study by the University of Basel in Switzerland showed that when participants consumed green tea extract (in a protein drink) they performed better in short-term memory tests than participants who did not drink the beverage. A separate study performed on mice showed that green tea protected brain cells from atrophy and restored damaged brain cells.
Edgar refers to an animal study in which those given antioxidants from oolong tea suffered less from bad cholesterol levels.
It is also positively tied to weight loss. Kiran Patil, founder of the health advice website Organic Facts, points to several studies that support this assertion. “In a 2009 study published in The Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, 102 overweight or obese people who drank four cups of oolong tea lost weight. 22 percent lost more than 3 kg. Moreover, all participants showed a remarkable decrease in their total cholesterol and triglyceride levels,” he says.
Furthermore, oolong tea antioxidants strengthen bone structure and prevent osteoporosis. “A number of studies have analysed the long-term effects of drinking this tea, particularly on bone mineral density (BMD). They showed that people who consistently drank black or oolong tea for more than 10 years were less likely to lose their bone mineral density over that span of time,” says Patil.
Amy Hopkins, 17 November 2017, “5 amazing benefits of green tea that you didn’t know about”, https://www.health24.com/Diet-and-nutrition/Healthy-foods/5-amazing-benefits-of-green-tea-that-you-didnt-know-about-20171114.
Julie Edgar, 20 March 2009, “Types of tea and their health benefits”, https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/tea-types-and-their-health-benefits#1.
Kiran Patil, 12 September 2018, “10 Nutritional Benefits Of Oolong Tea”, https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/beverage/health-benefits-of-oolong-tea.html.
Malia Frey, 6 November 2018, “Different types of tea and health benefits of each”, https://www.verywellfit.com/health-benefits-of-tea-how-different-types-compare-4148086.
Ryan Raman, 10 January 2018, “10 impressive benefits of white tea”, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/white-tea-benefits.
Vibha Dhawan, 23 August 2018, “11 health benefits of black tea that you didn’t know about”, https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/11-benefits-black-tea.html.