Tea is a name given to a lot of brews, but more commonly referred to the aromatic beverage prepared by pouring boiling water over cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The term herbal tea usually refers to infusions of fruit or herbs made without the tea plant, such as steeps of rosehip, chamomile, or rooibos. These are sometimes called tisanes or herbal infusions to prevent confusion with tea made from the tea plant. Being connoisseurs, when we say ‘tea’, we refer to the infusion of Camellia sinensis.
Regardless of the season, tea can be a refreshing beverage since it can be served hot or cold. In any case, its advantages go long ways past just refreshment. The flavonoids, antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds in tea have made it a popular remedy for a wide variety of ailments and afflictions, and can even be used in topical applications for certain issues.
Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. Many experts believe this damage is a factor in the development of blood vessel disease (atherosclerosis), cancer, and other conditions. Tea contains unique antioxidants called flavonoids, the most potent of these, known as ECGC (Epigallocatechin gallate), may help against free radicals that can contribute to cancer, heart disease, and clogged arteries. Antioxidants work to prevent the body’s version of rust and thus help to keep us young and protect us from damage caused by pollution.
¬Tea can do more than just keep you awake, it can also make you smarter. The key active ingredient is caffeine, which is a known stimulant. It doesn’t contain as much as coffee, but enough to produce a response without causing the “jittery” effects associated with too much caffeine.
Tea contains more than just caffeine, it also has the amino acid L-theanine, which is able to cross the blood-brain barrier. L-theanine increases the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter, which has anti-anxiety effects. It also increases dopamine and the production of alpha waves in the brain. Studies show that caffeine and L-theanine can have synergistic effects, hence the combination of the two is particularly potent at improving brain function.
Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, are the biggest causes of death in the world. Studies show that drinking tea regularly can improve some of the main risk factors for these diseases. This includes total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Catechins in green tea, theaflavins and thearubigins in black tea were shown to have the ability of inhibiting lipid oxidation and plaque formation (which can lead to heart disease), whilst reducing cholesterol. Given the beneficial effects on risk factors, it is not surprising to see research that shows regular tea drinkers have up to a 31% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Tea contains naturally high amounts of fluoride. The Camellia sinensis plant picks it up from the soil and the brewing process extracts most of it from the leaves. Therefore, tea can contribute considerably to your daily fluoride requirement, helping reduce tooth decay. It even changes the pH in your mouth when you drink it and that could also help prevents cavities. The polyphenols in tea may also inhibit the growth of bacteria which cause decay, and make them less harmful to the teeth.
Tea in its pure and unadulterated form contains no calories. It’s a great alternative to water and it provides so many options for flavor and versatility. You can have it hot or cold, you don’t have to put anything in it, though you might want to add a cinnamon stick or some ginger. That means you’re able to hydrate with something other than water alone. In addition to this, research shows that tea can boost the metabolic rate in the body, thereby helping you lose weight. Several studies have shown that tea leads to decreases in body fat, body weight and waist circumference.
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