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Tea & Antioxidants

April 18, 2011

Antioxidants in Green  Tea

Tea is brimming with antioxidants, the disease-fighting compounds that help your body stave off illness.
Full article can be found: HERE

Tea is slowly catching up to coffee in the popularity stakes.  Even Starbucks is polishing up its tea menu.  The health benefits of tea are one compelling reason:  Green and black teas have 10 times the amount of antioxidants found in fruits and veggies according to estimates.

Studies of humans and animals show that the antioxidants in tea are highly beneficial to our health, says John Weisburger, PhD, senior researcher at the Institute for Cancer Prevention in Valhalla, N.Y.

“I’ve published more than 500 papers, including a hell of a lot on tea,” says Weisburger, who drinks 10 cups daily.

“I was the first American researcher to show that tea modifies the metabolism to detoxify harmful chemicals.”

All teas from the camellia tea plant are rich in polyphenols, which are a type of antioxidant.  These wonder nutrients scavenge for cell-damaging free radicals in the body and detoxify them, says Weisburger.

“Whether it’s green or black, tea has about eight to 10 times the polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables.”

Black and green both have different types of antioxidants than fruits and vegetables. Thearubigins, epicatechins, and catechins are among those listed in a USDA chart. All are considered flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Brewed green and black teas have loads of those, the chart shows.

Look at the world’s big tea drinkers, like Japan and China.

“China and Japan, big tea drinkers,  have much less heart disease and don’t have certain cancers that we in the Western world suffer,” says Weisburger.

Tea is a great example of the past decade’s research of antioxidants, he says. “There is a pretty consistent body of evidence suggesting there is a benefit to tea. Tea is a very rich source of a specific kind of antioxidant called flavonoids.”

The detoxifying effect of these antioxidants protects cells from free radicals, the damage that can lead to blood clot formation, atherosclerosis, and cancer.

The bulk of research shows that regular tea drinkers, people who drink two cups or more a day, have less heart disease and stroke, lower total and LDL (often called “bad”) cholesterol, and that they recover from heart attacks faster.

In a study involving bladder cancer cells, green tea extract seemed to make the cancer cells behave oddly.  They matured sooner, bound together tightly, and had a hard time multiplying. Another study found that men who drank oolong tea plus green tea extract lost more weight and total body fat, compared with men who drank plain oolong tea. Also, the green tea drinkers had lower LDL cholesterol.

Other small studies have found that the antioxidants from drinking tea can help prevent skin cancer. There’s also evidence that tea extracts applied to the skin (in a lotion) can block sun damage that leads to skin cancer.

All this research seems to suggest that if you want to do something good for yourself, drink tea.

“It has no calories and lots of polyphenols. If you’re drinking tea, you’re not drinking soda — that’s a real benefit. Water doesn’t give you those polyphenols,” says Blumberg.

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