“If there’s anything that can confidently be communicated to the public, it’s the strong association of tea drinking with a lower risk of common chronic diseases, particularly heart disease, and the demonstration of that benefit through clinical trials,” says Jeffrey B. Blumberg, PhD, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Antioxidants Research Laboratory. While their nutritional benefits may differ, all teas contain antioxidant compounds called flavonoids. Says Blumberg, “There are a lot of related flavonoids in fruits and vegetables, but many people aren’t consuming the amount of flavonoids in their diets as are being found to promote health. Another way to get them is tea. A cup of tea is like adding a serving of fruit or vegetables to your diet.”

A new study by researchers at Texas Tech University have reported that in menopausal women with low bone mass, green tea boosted bone formation. It has been suggested that tea drinking can improve one’s ability to live independently – not only by strengthening bones, but also by factors such as stroke and cognitive impairment. A recent Japanese study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that for those older adults who drank five or more cups of tea a day, they were more than half as likely to develop functional disability than those who drank less than one cup a day.

If you are sensitive to caffeine though, it’s possible you can get too much of a good thing. Tea contains about half the caffeine of coffee, but many of tea’s benefits can be obtained from decaffeinated teas (Some of the flavonoid content is lost in the decaf process though). Steeping tea in hot water is the best way to get the most flavonoids. Cold brewed tea and powdered mixes usually don’t have the same flavonoid levels. If you don’t like the taste of tea plain, you can add some lemon or other citrus juice to it. Citrus juices reduce the loss of tea flavonoids through digestion. Adds Blumberg, “If you don’t drink tea, you should start. It’s really delicious. It’s convenient. And it has zero calories.”            Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter    April 2013

 

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