A Chinese legend dating back to 2737 B.C. says that leaves from an overhanging Camellia sinensis plant fell into Emperor Shennong’s cup of boiling water and so begins the story of drinking tea.(1) According to the Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc., the number of Americans who will drink tea today is over 158 million, about half the U.S. population.(1) Tea has been recognized by cultures around the world for its capacity to soothe, restore and refresh. Tea has always been recognized as having many health benefits as the reduction the risk of heart attack and stroke, provide antioxidants and strengthen teeth and bones.(2) A new study suggests there is another reason to be drinking tea and that is that tea drinking reduces the risk of cognitive impairment in older persons.(3) Let’s take a closer look at how these 158 million Americans could be benefitting!
Benefits of Drinking Tea
Here are just four of the benefits found from drinking tea.
Heart Health– This is attributed to the antioxidant effects, the disease-fighting compounds that help your body stave off illness. Tea contains polyphenols, which are a type of antioxidant. These amazing nutrients scavenge for cell-damaging free radicals in the body and detoxify them. Tea has about eight to 10 times the polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables. (4) Studies that looked at the relationship of black tea intake and heart health reported decreased incidence of heart attack, whereas drinking green tea was associated with lower total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides, and higher HDL (the “good” cholesterol) levels.
Healthy Bones– Green tea can help prevent bone loss
Healthy Smile- Japanese researchers reported at least one cup of green tea per day was associated with significantly decreased odds for tooth loss. Other studies have suggested tea may lower the pH of the tooth surface, suppressing the growth of periodontal bacteria. (1)
Digestive System– Herbal teas can help limit inflammation and can even slow down digestive enzymes aiding in antispasmodic episodes. (2)
The Newest Study
As mentioned above, tea drinking reduces the risk of cognitive impairment in older persons by 50% and as much as 86% for those who are genetically at risk of Alzheimer’s. This study was put out by Assistant Professor Feng Lei from the Department of Psychological Medicine at National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. The study is proving that the long term benefit of tea consumption is due to the bioactive compounds in tea leaves, such as catechins, theaflavins, thearubigins and L-theanine. These compounds exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant potential and other bioactive properties that may protect the brain from vascular damage and neurodegeneration. (3)
Does it matter which type of tea you drink?
The type of tea can make a difference for different health benefits, but in regards to cognitive impairment, the research team discovered that the neuroprotective role of tea consumption on cognitive function is not limited to a particular type of tea – so long as the tea is brewed from tea leaves, such as green, black or oolong tea. All non-herbal teas are made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The amount of time the leaves are processed determines whether you end up with a green, black or oolong tea.
So, enjoy a cup of tea knowing that you can be doing great things for your physical and mental health. If you need additional help with your health, contact us for your fitness related matters!
- “The Health Benefits of Tea”. Accessed 6, April 2017. Eatright.org. http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/wellness/preventing-illness/the-health-benefits-of-tea
- “How a Daily Cup of Tea May Improve your Health”. Accessed 6, April 2017. Today.com. http://www.today.com/series/one-small-thing/top-10-health-benefits-drinking-tea-t81111
- “Daily consumption of tea may protect the elderly from cognitive decline, study suggests”. Accessed 4, April 2017. Science Daily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170316093412.htm
- “Antioxidants in Green and Black Tea”. Accessed 12, April 2017. Webmd.com http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/antioxidants-in-green-and-black-tea#1