Everyone’s heard the adage that goes, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. It’s stuck around so long because it’s true. A daily diet that includes plenty of fresh whole fruit may go a long way toward boosting health. Today, a lot of people think a cup of tea can keep the doctor away, too. Can it? Let’s find out.
What can tea do for you?
According to Shape magazine, tea may offer numerous health benefits, including cancer prevention, reduced risk of heart disease and lowered blood pressure. Tea drinkers tend to have less calcium buildup in the vascular system than those who do not sip a daily “cuppa” tea. Certain types of tea may also boost the immune system and improve cognitive function, especially in seniors.
Dr. Elliott Miller is an instructor of medicine at Baltimore’s famed Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Miller led a recent study that looked at the effects of tea drinking in general and did not focus on any one type of tea. The study included drinkers of black tea and green tea, both of which deliver a beneficial dose of something called flavonoids. Results of the study seem to indicate that some kinds of tea may actually boost cardiovascular health. Whether this heart-enhancing property is due to the tea itself or because tea drinkers tend to enjoy a healthier lifestyle is still undecided. Here’ what Dr. Miller had to say about the study:
“It’s too early to say drinking tea will help you have less cardiovascular events, like heart attack and stroke. But it does suggest there could be a protective nature of tea, or that tea drinkers, in general, are healthier individuals.”
Green tea comes from Camellia sinensis –the same plant that gives us common black tea. The difference is that black tea is roasted, while green tea remains raw and is generally air-dried before being packaged for sale to tea lovers.
Researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University note that green tea boosts the body’s production of something called regulatory T cells. These specialized cells are crucial to a healthy human immune system. One ingredient in green tea that is of particular interest is a polyphenol compound called EGCG. What makes this compound so intriguing is that fact that ECGC may actually trigger an epigenetic process that does not change basic DNA codes but may positively influence genetic expression.
One form of green tea that’s taking the world of health research by storm is called matcha. The finely powdered tea, such as this from Kiss Me Organics offers a steady energy boost that can relieve afternoon doldrums in a health-boosting fashion.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition describes research results that indicate a cup of tea may benefit seniors, especially those who have difficulty dressing, bathing, and performing other activities of daily living. The study included more than 14,000 seniors over the age of 65 and was conducted over a period of three years. Results also indicate that green tea may offer a few more health benefits than basic black tea beverages.
Herbal teas are not a true’ tea’ but are a brewed infusion of leaves, fruit, bark, roots or other plant parts. Depending on what they’re made of, some herbal teas also offer health benefits. Peppermint tea, for instance, is a well known gas reliever that can also help clear a stuffy nose. Valerian root tea can be as calming as a valium tablet, without the expense of a prescription. Chamomile tea can help anyone of any age to fall asleep more quickly. Tea brewed from ginger root may alleviate seasickness and other types of nausea associated with motion.
The Mayo Clinic in Baltimore explains that kombucha “mushroom tea” is not made with mushrooms at all, but instead comprises a colony of bacteria. When allowed to ferment in a mixture of sugar and tea, the colony presents a slightly sour, slightly effervescent beverage that proponents claim can prevent cancer and other dread diseases. Unfortunately, the facts do not support this claim. There are a number of adverse effects that can be directly linked to kombucha tea, including allergic reactions and upset stomachs.
Iced or hot, brewed tea is a flavorful way to add hydration that everyone needs. A cup of tea may not be a miracle cure, but it’s certainly a nice way to relax at the end of a busy day.
You can find more great recipes from our friends at the Village Bakery. Good luck and here’s to your health!