Did you know that next to water, tea is the most commonly consumed beverage in the world?
While drinking water daily is important, drinking two or more cups of tea a day can be part of a healthy diet while offering additional benefits.
In fact, you may have noticed tea drinking has received a lot of media buzz recently, as a result of a large, new study that was just released in the Annals of Internal Medicine revealing how drinking two or more cups of black tea a day could affect your longevity. This newly released study (the Western world’s favorite drink) adds more information to a large body of research that has already shown green tea (the Eastern world’s favorite drink) possesses a number of health benefits.
What are health benefits of tea drinking?
Polyphenols are a chief contributor to a myriad of health benefits observed with tea. An antioxidant, polyphenols protect our cells by neutralizing harmful free radicals that would otherwise damage our cells and DNA as well as create a state of inflammation. In doing so, it can decrease the risk of developing conditions such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Short-term studies have shown that drinking tea may improve vascular reactivity, a measure of how well your blood vessels respond to physical or emotional stress.
There’s also evidence that drinking either black or green tea may aid in lowering bad cholesterol levels that contribute to fatty plaque buildup inside our blood vessels, also known as atherosclerosis.
It is also purported that two or more cups a day may help protect your teeth and strengthen your bones. While researchers are not sure why, they believe that polyphenol antioxidants may play a major role by preventing cell damage.
Research released earlier this month suggests people who drink black tea every day may reap the same health benefits associated with green tea and for those drinking 2 or more cups daily — the study suggested a 9-13% lower risk of dying from a number of conditions than non-tea drinkers
And while those who enjoy one or two cups of black or green tea a day, should continue to enjoy, so researchers agree there’s not enough evidence to advise changing tea habits. Like other caffeine-containing drinks, such as coffee, tea can be harmful in large quantities. Thus, it’s important to limit your daily intake of tea.
Green tea vs. black tea
Both types of tea are actually produced from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, the scientific name of all tea bushes. While the teas may be produced from different varieties of C. sinensis, the difference between black and green tea solely depends on the processing of the tea leaves. Here’s how they differ:
After the leaves are harvested, they go through different processing stages and the main difference between black and green tea is the level of oxidation they experience. Oxidation just means that the tea leaves have been exposed to oxygen for a period of time.
Leaves of green tea are heated after harvesting in order to halt the oxidation process, usually either by steaming or pan-firing. Black tea, meanwhile, is allowed to fully oxidize after it’s harvested.
Both black and green contain many of the same properties and health benefits.
Overall tea studies attempt to rule out the possibility that tea drinkers simply live healthier lifestyles, but it’s difficult. Within the newly released body of research mentioned earlier, scientists from the U.S. National Cancer Institute used a significant database of nearly 500,000 men and women ages 40 to 69 years old who participated with in-depth genetic and health information along with details about their own tea drinking habits, such as frequency, temperature and what they added to their cup (milk, sugar, etc.). They followed up with them for 14 years. The study suggests that people who drank two or more cups of tea daily in the interim were less likely to have died from causes such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and stroke.
While this new study provides a detailed look at tea drinking habits, experts agree there’s still more research that needs to be done before recommending dietary changes (about whether people should start drinking tea or change how much they are drinking). And, this study was observational. it cannot prove cause and effect and a cautious interpretation is important.
What the study does suggest is that if you are currently drinking tea or a newcomer — you can certainly enjoy the rewards of some great tastes as well as the added health benefits linked to drinking tea!