Just The Tea FAQs: Health Benefits (Part III)

The wonders of modern science continue to amaze us with new cures and essential information on healthy living: what to eat, what to drink, what do to; and, of course, what not to eat, drink, and do. All of this is quite wonderful.

Well, most of the time.

Occasionally (just occasionally), some nice, innocent foods, drinks, and things-to-do get painted with the wrong health brush, and it's only through a re-examination of scientific research data combined with a rather passionate public relations effort that these blameless foods, drinks, and activities are redeemed. Chocolate is a good example of how a food can get, well, steamrolled by the healthy eating train. Wine is another example. And of course, lest we forget the noble avocado, which many dieters (and even non dieters) have kept at bay with almost superstitious fervor.

Now, thankfully, we bring to light another dietary item that the North American stomach has been rudely banished in the caffeine-free craze of the last decade or so: tea!

The simple truth is that tea is one of the earth's most generous sources of smart nutrition. In fact, by the time we're done looking at the major benefits of tea, you'll never be able to look at another cup the same way.

Tea Contains Antioxidants (the good guys)

The best known health benefit of tea ? regardless of the color (and we'll chat about that further below in this article) ? is its antioxidant properties. These antioxidants derive from chemicals called polyphenols, which are present in the leaves.

The thing is, when the body digests food, something rather unhealthy is created in that process; something called "free radicals". (And no, they don't run around your body with picket signs calling for anarchy and setting off pipe bombs). Free radicals are rather dangerous, and if left to roam freely in your body, lead to a menu of pretty terrifying health conditions, including: cancer, heart disease, stroke, ocular/vision problems, and even dementia. Thankfully, however, antioxidants ? which are plentiful in tea ? come to the rescue and help ward off the damage that free radicals would otherwise do if left to roam and damage freely. Antioxidants from tea are thus the "good guys" that come to the rescue when the free radicals want to do their damage.

Tea Helps Your Smile

Let's jump from one of tea's best known benefits to one of its least known benefits: it contains fluoride, which is great for tea and bone health. Fluoride is the stuff that dentists (at least 4 out of 5, apparently) add to toothpaste and water treatment systems to help ward off cavities, and to promote overall dental health. Furthermore, some teas, such as oolong tea, can help kill unhealthy bacteria in the mouth.

Tea Keeps you Beautiful

Here's a business idea: go to the beach, and instead of selling sunbathers ice cream or lemonade, sell them a nice steaming cup of tea. And when they begin to yell at you for selling something so unwanted on a hot day, show them this article (particularly the part in the next paragraph).

Researchers at the University of Arizona (they'd know a lot about the sun, right? It's sunny in Arizona?) have found that drinking tea ? particularly black tea ? can protect the skin against squamous-cell carcinoma (this is the second most common form of skin cancer in the US, affecting more than 200,000 people each year). There is also some research evidence pointing to tea's skin-care value as a topical lotion. Know what that means? Yup: instead of selling suntan lotion next to your black tea stand at the beach, you can just as happily sell black tea lotion. (You can even sell them bundled at a 10% discount!)

Tea is Hearty

We briefly touched upon tea's antioxidant properties; which is a fancy way of saying that tea helps deal with those evil free radicals that can lead to heart disease and stroke. Yet even though we've mentioned how tea "helps your heart", it's worth another mention because, well, it's good to have a healthy heart. Tea has been shown to lower "bad" cholesterol (a.k.a. LDL cholesterol), which can help stave off the myriad of extremely serious problems associated with high "bad" cholesterol, including the aforementioned stroke and heart disease.

Vitamin Tea?

We're not all that accustomed to enjoying vitamins from beverages that don't come from fruits and vegetables. But really, all we're "accustomed to" is accessing our vitamins from things that grow; and tea is certainly a thing that grows. In this light, it shouldn't come as a big surprise (though it often is surprising to learn) that tea is loaded with vitamins, including: Vitamin A, B1, B2, B6. "But that's not all" -- there's also a good dose of two very helpful minerals: potassium and manganese. Together, these vitamins and minerals help the body maintain a healthy heart, healthy nerves, healthy bones, and healthy digestion (among other healthy functions).

Future Health Research on Tea

As tea is being vigorously analyzed by scientists everywhere (you know how they like to analyze things), there are some very promising health research trends that involve tea. At the top of this list is cancer. Some studies suggest that both green and black tea help cells avoid becoming cancerous. While this does not cure the cancer, it can potentially help cancer from spreading, and enable the successful intervention of other treatments. Other research points to any tea deriving from the evergreen called "Camellia sinensis" as having cancer-fighting properties

A Tea by Any Other Color?

As promised: as you know, there are different kinds of tea available. Generally, they fall into categories based on color: green, tea, and red. Very simply, the amount of processing that the tea leave undergoes is what determines its color; with green tea being the least processed. This fact typically makes green tea the healthiest of the teas, and also typically means that green tea contains less caffeine than black tea. However, in some cases, the caffeine content can be the same; it all depends on the process. All teas, however, contain the wildly wonderful antioxidant properties that we've noted above.

Gary W. Griffin, Ph.D. is a researcher and an entrepreneur. He is also an avid tea drinker. This article is brought to you by tea faqs. If you're searching for information on tea faqs, visit us at tea faqs

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