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All-Star of the Day: Tea

Nutrition isn’t just about food. Beverages, such as tea, can play an important role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Not only does tea — whether green, white, black, or red (also known as oolong) — have as much as 1000 (yes, one thousand) percent more antioxidants than many fruits and vegetables, it also gives our bodies a huge detoxifying boost.

White tea is the least processed, since its leaves only undergo air-drying. Green tea leaves are steamed and dried, while black and red tea ones undergo a fermentation process. Although a few healthy compounds are lost during processing, all teas are nutritional champs in their purest form (i.e.: brewed as opposed to a Snapple drink, which is basically sugar and water with a little tea thrown in).

All teas have high amounts of natural plants antioxidants known as polyphenols and cachetins, which look for cell-damaging free radicals and prevent them from doing further damage, thereby helping decrease our risk of cancers and blood clots.

There’s more! Numerous studies have shown that having 2 cups of tea a day can help lower total and bad cholesterol and slow the growth of tumors.

A little Nutrition 101: bad cholesterol (LDL) is especially dangerous when it oxidizes as a result of exposure to free radicals and becomes particularly sticky (not a good quality in something that deposits in our arteries). Luckily, antioxidants, as their name suggest, prevent oxidizing and make it harder for bad cholesterol to reside in our arteries as hard plaque.

Tea also has antioxidants known as flavonoids, which, research suggests, may help prevent blood clots.

A 2004 study by the UCLA Department of Urology found that green tea extract in particular slowed down the multiplication of bladder cancer cells.

Great news for women — a December 2005 study by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden concluded that two cups of tea a day decreased a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer by as much as 46 percent.

Bagged teas have the highest amount of antioxidants, and to ensure these compounds end up in your, dunk the bag several times while the tea steeps for at least 3 minutes.

Don’t think you have to drink tea by itself to get benefits. One common myth perpetrated by tea purists is that the addition of milk cancels out much of its health benefits, which is entirely

Tea does bind with iron, so it’s recommended you consume tea between meals rather than with them to make sure you are fully absorbing the iron in your food. If you insist on tea to accompany your meals, I recommend adding some lemon to it, since vitamin C aids with iron absorption.

It is worth noting that these wonderful health properties do NOT apply to herbal teas, which are not made from the same leaves as the above-mentioned teas.


One Comment

  1. greg davis said on August 7th, 2007

    hi andy,
    love your blog, just came across it today. ive been reading through the back posts.

    just wanted to make one correction on this tea post.
    red tea is not another name for oolong tea. red tea is in fact an herbal tea also called red bush or rooibos tea and has nothing to do with the camellia sinensis plant that all non-herbal tea (white, green, oolong, black) comes from.

    also bagged teas are actually the lowest quality tea you can buy, they are considered the dregs of the tea world. i think its always best to buy whole loose leaf tea and steep it according to the directions (white, green, black and oolong tea all have different steeping times and water temperatures, there is nothing worse than oversteeping tea in water that was too hot or cold!) for the best tasting, highest quality, and most health beneficial cup of tea.

    herbal teas do have nice health properties of their own that are different from regular teas, but that could well be the subject of a different post.

    take care,

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