Tea is the second most commonly consumed beverage in the world after water, and is bursting with many natural, health and wellbeing benefits, including being good for our bones, heart, vascular system and skin, say the Tea Advisory Panel (TAP). Among the health-giving, bioactive compounds in tea are flavonoids, the amino acid L-theanine, gallic acid and fluoride. In some cultures, it is viewed as a natural medicine, and in days gone by, tea was used to clean wounds, treat styes and was even mentioned in dispatches in 1906 as being added to soldiers’ water bottles as a prophylactic against typhoid. Nowadays, studies have reported that tea reverses Helicobacter infections – a risk factor for stomach ulcers – so the antibacterial effects are real.
So, to celebrate National Tea Day (and give you an excuse to put the kettle one) here's just a few of the health and wellbeing benefits of Britain’s’ favorite beverage:
According to dietitian Lynne Garton, drinking four cups of tea daily is associated with heart health benefits, in particular reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. These benefits are related to its polyphenol content, which help to relax the blood vessels as well as protecting ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol from being oxidized, which makes it less harmful.
Just four cups of tea daily have been found to contain enough natural fluoride to help protect teeth from decay.
The flavonoid polyphenols in tea are thought to maintain bone density through a number of mechanisms, including a general antioxidant activity, allowing cells to function optimally as well as specifically maintaining and even encouraging bone forming activity.
Both black and green tea contain plant flavonoid compounds that boost the health of blood vessels and help manage blood pressure, which in turn helps the brain - the organ that consumes most of our oxygen and nutrients. Tea also contains some caffeine which boosts mental alertness and concentration, and L-theanine which is linked with calmness. All of these natural compounds in tea could help cognitive health.
Tea polyphenols work to stimulate ‘good’ bacteria in the colon, which could then help to promote fat breakdown and the clearance of glucose from the blood. Positive changes to gut bacteria have also been linked with improved satiety, a feeling of fullness after meals.
But what about the caffeine?
Dr Carrie Ruxton, independent dietitian and member of TAP says “Despite being found in 60 different types of plants, caffeine often gets a bad rap, and our latest report which we are just about to publish provides a review of the latest data with findings that may be surprising.It shows that caffeine improves mood, increases alertness, and reduces the sense of tiredness and pain.”
Dr Tim Bond (member of TAP adds: “Unlike many other sources of caffeine, tea only contains 40-50mg of caffeine per serving if using a tea bag. At this level of caffeine, a mild improvement in cognitive function would be expected without any risk of negative effects, such as sleep latency. Tea is also naturally sugar-free and is typically served with milk, making a small, but vital contribution to mineral intakes over time.”
Lynne Garton adds: “The health benefits of tea and its ingredients are increasingly well established. So, next time you put on the kettle for a brew, consider the amazing blend of natural plant compounds that you are about to drink, and the many benefits that science has unraveled for us.”
For more information see www.teaadvisorypanel.com
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How to make the perfect cup of tea
What you'll need:
We Are Tea Loose Leaf English Breakfast Tea
Milk to taste
Boil 2 x cups of filtered water
Add 2 teaspoons of loose leaf tea to the pot and pour on freshly boiled water
Allow to infuse for two minutes
Pour tea into a ceramic cup through a tea strainer
Add milk to taste