When asked what is the most consumed beverage in the world, most people would say water. This is correct. However, the second most consumed beverage in the world is tea.
Tea leads to the good health
Many people would not believe it, but it is consumed more than coffee, beer or soda. People have been consuming tea for centuries, but only recently has there been research linking the consumption of tea and tea-like products with good health, in particular Cardiovascular health.
What is tea?
The term tea actually describes the plant, leaf or beverage originating from a single species Camelia sinensis. There are three types: Green, black and oolong. The differences in color and taste between the three is determined by the degree of fermentation that the leaves are allowed to undergo after harvesting.
The degree of fermentation that the tea is subjected to during processing determines the type of flavonoids that will be present in the final product. The principal polyphenols in green tea are catechins and in black tea are flavins, these are polymerized catechins known as theaflavins and thearugabins. Theaflavins are found in black tea, not green tea. Theaflavins have been shown to help with cardiovascular issues.
What have studies shown us?
In one study they looked at endothelial function (blood vessel function) by giving a number of subjects 5 cups of black tea or hot water per day for 4 weeks. The brachial artery was used to measure its ability to dilate before and after consumption of Black tea.The results showed that there was a significant and consistent increase in endothelial function compared to those drinking hot water.
- Other studies have shown tea may be beneficial at reducing ones chance of getting a Myocardial infarction or stroke.
- Another study showed that by drinking 5 cups black tea/day for 3 weeks caused a 10% reduction in LDL cholesterol compared with the placebo. Other studies have shown that there was no benefit in drinking tea. The problem with these studies is how we interpret them especially the ones that show no benefit of drinking tea.
How tea differs in different parts of the world?
For example, in the USA the tea that most people drink is half as strong as other parts of the world (Europe and Asia). Also in a number of countries, they usually add milk to their tea which may or may not affect the benefits of tea. Also not specified in these studies is the type of tea, its method of preparation, or the quantity consumed. Lastly is how do we interpret 1 cup?
Much of the research considers 240 ml a cup of tea but in countries like Japan where they consume less than 240 ml during the course of the day we cannot assume 240ml is one cup.
People have been drinking tea for thousands of years, but only recently researchers realized that tea may hold many more health benefits than previously thought. One capsule of Theaflavins is equivalent to 1 cup.
Nadeem Aslam, B.Sc. researches and recommends new products for Nature's Source.