The Fifth International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Human Health has revealed a number of reasons to have your daily cup or rather, cups.
Tea contains natural plant compounds called polyphenols as well as compounds found in plant-based foods, flavonoids, that have many health benefits. While the FDA has warned green tea makers about the health claims they make, the symposium, which was held in Washington, DC last week offers more evidence for why drinking tea is good for you. Here are five reasons to make sure you drink your tea.
1. Mitigation and Even Prevention of Chronic Diseases Such As Osteoporosis
Thanks to the flavonoids and antioxidants it contains, green tea could help prevent osteoporosis, the incurable “brittle bone” disease.
In a Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center study, postmenopausal women drank 4 to 6 cups of green tea a day; some were also prescribed a regimen of Tai Chi. After six months (and whether or not they had done the Tai Chi), the women showed “improved markers for bone formation, reduced markers of inflammation, and increased muscle strength.” Chwan-Li “Leslie” Shen, a professor of pathology, emphasized that green tea cannot cure osteoporosis but can lessen its effects.
2. Keeping Your Heart Healthy
Just drinking one cup of black tea prior to eating a high-fat meal warded off negative effects on blood pressure as well as promoting healthy arterial function, says a small study under Claudio Ferri, director of Internal Medicine at the University L’Aquila, Italy.
Flavonoids, the researchers note, can induce dilation of the arteries; they also say that black tea could have benefits for those with strokes, heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases.
3. A Way to Lose Weight
Green tea contains caffeine and catechins (which, notes The Atlantic, give tea its bitterness and astringency). Researchers at Maastricht University in the Netherlands found that drinking green tea led to an increase in people’s expending of energy, resulting in them burning about 100 extra calories in a 24-hour period.
Three cups a day are suggested, though some other factors may have played a part. In this study, those who didn’t habitually drink caffeine showed more effects and Asian participants lost twice as much weight as those who were white.
4. A Digestive Aid
Both green and black tea, thanks to the flavonoids they contain, can have a probiotic effect on the lower gastrointestinal tract, say University of Glasgow, Scotland, researchers — certainly a cup of tea can be soothing on the stomach after a meal of greasy Chinese food!
5. Enhancing Cognitive Performance
Drinking tea helped people to remain alert and focused on tasks in a placebo-controlled study by Unilever R&D, Vlaardingen, the Netherlands. Could tea rival not only those so-called “energy drinks” but, who knows, Ritalin?
In The Atlantic, Jeffrey Blumberg, a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science at Tufts University and the chair of the tea symposium, emphasized that tea is, indeed, a plant; perhaps it ought to count for one or two servings of recommended dietary allowance of fruits and vegetables that many Americans struggle to get.
As Blumberg (a true tea promoter) “If you don’t drink tea, you should start. It’s really delicious. It’s convenient.” Plus, provided you don’t pour in the sugar and milk or cream, tea has zero calories.
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