Friday, January 28, 2011

Is tea really healthy?

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Jan 26, 2011

Green, white or black, tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world. But is it really healthy? We find out:

The good…
Packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals that possess antibiotic properties, tea helps protect you from a range of cancers including lung, prostrate and breast cancers, lower the stress hormone levels and reduce chances of cognitive impairment. Green tea has been claimed to be helpful in cases of atherosclerosis, high LDL cholesterol, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, liver disease, weight loss, neurodegenerative diseases and even halitosis or bad breath.

The bad…
All tea leaves contain fluoride. While it does help reduce dental plaque, high fluoride intake (over 2 mg for children, 4 mg adults daily) increases the risk of osteofluorosis and fractures. The caffeine in tea is addictive and can induce acute diuretic effects if tea is consumed in large quantities (five or six cups of tea a day). Tea also contains tannins which may increase the risk of oesophageal cancer.

And the verdict is...
On its own tea is good for your health. Drink it too often and you ingest more caffeine, tannins and oxalates which are bad for your kidneys.  Drink it with milk and it loses its beneficial effects. A 2006 German study found that adding milk to black tea destroys its ability to protect against heart disease.  Casein from milk binds to the molecules in tea that cause the arteries to relax. Drink tea with too much of sugar and you end up with gastric problems. And if you drink piping hot chai you may risk throat cancer!

The best way to make tea is to steep the leaves for five minutes in hot water. Allow it to cool down a little before you drink it. 

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