The Benefits of Drinking Tea | HealthiNation

Uploaded by HealthiNation on 16.02.2012

I’m Lynn Goldstein, a registered dietitian.
What if you could sip a few cups a day of a tasty, calorie-free drink that’s actually
good for your waistline and your heart? What if it were also affordable, convenient, and
readily available, Too good to be true, right? Yes! but maybe no.
We’re talking about tea, more specifically, black, green, white and oolong teas. They’re
all from the same plant not to be confused with herb teas which aren’t really teas
at all, but infusions of boiling water and dried fruits, herbs or flowers.
When tea leaves are picked, they begin to oxidize, meaning the leaves interact with
oxygen and the enzymes inside begin to change. This affects everything from the tea’s color
to its aroma and taste. A tea’s “type” is determined by the amount of oxidation and
other processing. Black tea is made from wilted leaves that are fully oxidized. Green tea
is made from unwilted leaves that aren’t allowed to oxidize. Oolong tea is something
in between. White tea is the rarest form because it’s made from only young leaves or buds
that have undergone the least amount of oxidation.
For such a simple brew, tea is amazingly complicated. It’s got thousands of compounds in it, many
of them bioactive. At the center of a wide range of health claims are two: caffeine and
Of all the teas, black tea contains the most caffeine, about 40-120 mg for 8 oz. The same
amount of freshly brewed coffee has about twice as much. Some believe that since caffeine
speeds up metabolism, it also might help with weight loss. Caffeine can also affect mental
alertness. These are just two of the possible health benefits of tea that could be attributed
to its caffeine content. Research is promising, but it’s way too early to start chugging
the stuff thinking tea is a cure-all. And be careful: we know that caffeine raises blood
pressure and can irritate the digestive tract. Consuming too much tea could lead to some
nasty and potentially serious side effects, including headaches, irritability, nausea,
diarrhea, insomnia, and an irregular heartbeat.
Antioxidants are the other substance in tea that some believe could be responsible for
tea’s healthy reputation. That’s because we know that antioxidants help the body repair
cell damage that happens as part of daily living. They may have a positive effect on
a range of chronic conditions from cardiovascular disease to diabetes.
The trouble is, while some studies have found possible benefits of tea (especially green
tea), most of that research is based on population studies whose results can be influenced by
other factors like genetics and lifestyle.
Here’s what we do know: The potential benefits seem to be in drinking actually hot or cold
brewed tea rather than in taking tea extract pills. That’s because we don’t yet know
if the compounds in supplements are the same as those found in brewed tea, or that they
are even in a form the body can absorb.
What I tell my patients is when drinking tea, just don’t go overboard. But especially
if a cup or two of tea a day replaces other liquids loaded with empty calories and sugar,
choosing tea is tea-rrific.