My first thought after attending a four-hour symposium on the health benefits of tea was I need a tall cool glass of iced tea. And I ought to be drinking 1-2 glasses a day.
Scientists from around the world presented the latest information on why drinking more tea is an easy health booster. This research was done on green, black, white and oolong tea, not herbal, which is a different plant.
These true teas contain flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants. Not to get too deep into the weeds, but there are six flavonoids subtypes and they are all beneficial. Following are highlights of the symposium:
Dr. Dayong Wu from Tufts discussed immune function. His conclusion: Green tea catechins, a flavonoids subtype, decrease the ability of pathogens to cause an infection and help the immune system spring into action. Green tea catechins are helpful to people with autoimmune disease by suppressing autoantigen inflammatory attacks and enhancing tissue repair.
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Jonathan Hodgeson, Ph.D., from Edith Cowan University in Australia presented data from large long-term prospective studies that showed 2-4 cups of tea a day could reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive decline. This protection seems to be strongest against vascular dementia.
Other presenters reviewed data regarding tea intake related to cardiovascular disease and cancer. For both of these, 2-4 cups of tea could cut your risk of heart disease and cancer.
There does not seem to be a downside to increasing tea intake except for someone who is extremely caffeine sensitive.
It’s best to brew your own tea than to buy bottled teas, which are full of sugar. And when you brew your tea, leave the teabags in the water all day to get the maximum benefits.
Most everyone has heard the recommendation to eat 2½ cups of fruits and vegetables a day. That is a great recommendation and part of our dietary guidelines. But it might be time to include tea in the guidelines.
The Canadian Food Guidelines state that unsweetened tea and coffee are healthy drink choices. Black and green teas have more Flavan-3-ol (flavonoid subgroup) than an apple or grapes.
An easy way to up your tea intake is to brew and cool a pitcher of your favorite tea and keep it in the refrigerator.