5 health benefits of drinking tea: a tea-riffic way to boost your health
Luckily for you tea fans, a cuppa is a tea-riffic way to boost your health: here’s a summary of 5 health benefits of drinking tea.
You might not realise it, but tea has been hugely popular in the UK for more than 350 years. Calming, soothing, comforting and refreshing, according to the Tea Advisory Panel, it’s the most commonly consumed beverage in the world after water. We laugh, cry and socialise over it, and the emotional benefits of a good cup of tea have become part of our culture. But did you know, that as well as boosting wellbeing, an increasing amount of research testifies to the health benefits of tea? Read on to find out why a daily cuppa – or four – is good for you.
With 45-70% of the human body made up of water, staying hydrated is vital to help us look and feel our best. Doctors’ recommendations suggest drinking at least 1.5 litres of fluid per day and tea is one way to help you reach that daily target. (And with the huge choice of flavours and infusions available – our Strawberry & Cream Tea is a gorgeous summery blend – it’s a lot more fun than yet another glass of water.) Dips in hydration during a busy day can affect physical and mental performance, as well as triggering headaches and making you feel tired, but those morning and afternoon slumps can be easily avoided with a quick cuppa.
Tea is also a natural source of minerals and potassium: manganese is essential for bone growth and body development, while potassium is vital for maintaining body fluid levels. Meanwhile, four cups of tea a day with milk (semi-skimmed is fine), provide 21% of your recommended daily calcium requirement.
Despite what you might otherwise have heard, the average cup of tea contains less caffeine than coffee; in fact, it has around half the amount of caffeine found in a cup of instant coffee and a third in filter coffee. Both black and green teas contain similar amounts of caffeine, while it is herbal teas that have no caffeine, making them ideal for a pre-bedtime drink.
Black or green? Polyphenols & Flavanols…
According to the Tea Advisory Panel, tea is an important source of health-enhancing minerals, polyphenols and flavanols. Indeed, tea and herbal infusions deliver a host of healing and health-enhancing properties. Black tea, the most commonly devoured tea in Britain, provides a brimful of flavonoids and provides around 80% of our overall intake. 1 One study concluded that three cups of tea a day has approximately the same antioxidant flavonoid power as eating six apples. 2
Another study found that one or two cups of tea has the same “radical scavenging capacity” as five portions of fruit and vegetables and as many of the flavonoids found in tea are several times more potent than Vitamin C or E. 3, 4
Dr Chris Etheridge, a leading medical herbalist, researcher says: “Tea is such an integral part of British life it is easy to overlook the extraordinary health benefits it brings to the table. Tea is full of antioxidant flavonoids and is a powerful weapon against oxidative stress, which is a factor, many serious health problems.”
Both green and black tea comes from the same plant, the Camelia sinensis tea bush, which means that as well as containing similar amounts of caffeine, they are also reported to contain similar amounts of lovely antioxidants. The difference in colour depends upon how the leaves are treated once they have been picked. Green tea is made from leaves that are steamed or rolled and dried or fired soon after being harvested and withered. This prevents the veins in the tea leaf breaking down so no oxidation of the leaves take place. Black tea is made from leaves that are withered then rolled or cut before being dried or fired. This extra process causes an enzyme action resulting in the stronger flavour and darker colour.
Teas contain a range of polyphenolic ingredients (polyphenols help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and improve artery function), which are linked with benefits from heart health to potentially lowering the risk of diabetes type 2. Tea is also packed with antioxidants – a particular type known as flavonoids – that help the body to fight against free radical damage and stay healthy.
Black tea consumption is increasingly linked with reduced incidence of cardiovascular events. 5, 6 It is the polyphenol flavonoids in black tea that are thought to be responsible for this beneficial effect.
Epidemiological studies have shown an inverse correlation between flavonoid-rich diets and cardiovascular disease. 7,8 Tea accounts for a major proportion of total flavonoid intake in a number of Western countries, including the UK. 9,10,11,12
So, from daily hydration to helping our bodies stay healthy, it’s official, drinking tea is good for you. Time to put that kettle on…
References (the stuffy rather dullish bit – I won’t blame you if you’ve left to have that pot of tea…)
Research taken from The Tea Advisory Panel http://www.teaadvisorypanel.com
1 Lakenbrink C et al. (2000) Flavonoids and other polyphenols in consumer brews of tea and other caffeinated beverages. J Agric Food Chem, 48; 2848-2852
2 Papanga G, et al (1999) The polyphenolic content of fruit and vegetables and their antioxidant activities. What does a serving constitute? Free Rad Res 30(2): 153-162
3 Vinson JA, et al (1995) Plant flavonoids, especially tea flavonols, are powerful antioxidants using an in vitro oxidation model for heart disease. J Agric Food Chem 43 (11):2800-2802
4 Rice- Evans CA, et al (1995) The relative antioxidant activities of plant derived polyphenolic flavonoids. Free Rad Res 2214 (4): 375-383
5 Grassi, D.; Aggio, A.; Onori, L.; Croce, G.; Tiberti, S.; Ferri, C.; Ferri, L.; Desideri, G. Tea, flavonoids, and nitric oxide-mediated vascular reactivity. J. Nutr. 2008, 138, 1554S–1560S
6 Bravo, L. Polyphenols: Chemistry, dietary sources, metabolism, and nutritional significance. Nutr. Rev. 1998, 56, 317–333.
7 Geleijnse, J.M.; Launer, L.J.; Van der Kuip, D.A.; Hofman, A.; Witteman, J.C. Inverse association of tea and flavonoid intakes with incident myocardial infarction: The Rotterdam Study. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2002, 75, 880–886.
8 Grassi, D.; Aggio, A.; Onori, L.; Croce, G.; Tiberti, S.; Ferri, C.; Ferri, L.; Desideri, G. Tea, flavonoids, and nitric oxide-mediated vascular reactivity. J. Nutr. 2008, 138, 1554S–1560S
9 Grassi, D.; Aggio, A.; Onori, L.; Croce, G.; Tiberti, S.; Ferri, C.; Ferri, L.; Desideri, G. Tea, flavonoids, and nitric oxide-mediated vascular reactivity. J. Nutr. 2008, 138, 1554S–1560S
10 Bravo, L. Polyphenols: Chemistry, dietary sources, metabolism, and nutritional significance. Nutr. Rev. 1998, 56, 317–333.
11 Geleijnse, J.M.; Launer, L.J.; Van der Kuip, D.A.; Hofman, A.; Witteman, J.C. Inverse association of tea and flavonoid intakes with incident myocardial infarction: The Rotterdam Study. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2002, 75, 880–886
12 Vogiatzoglou A et al, PLoS One. 2015; 10(5): e0128132. Flavonoid intake in European Adults (18-64 Years) as further evidence of black tea being a major source of flavonoid polyphenols