Viewing: April, 2014
April 18, 2014
I’ll be honest, I’m exhausted trying to keep up with the latest food fads in terms of health benefits. I feel bad that I’m not making a chia seed smoothie or spooning coconut oil on everything I eat. That’s not to say I don’t like to take care of myself, though, because I do. Like many people, I have a busy life where, for five days a week, it’s a miracle I get my five cups of tea a day.
I’ve heard people talk about the virtues of green tea, and how it can do wonders for your health. But how much of that is actually true? And what about plain old black tea? I drink buckets of the stuff!
Well for a start, in the Western world, we average four cups of tea a day. And if you have it with milk, then you’re getting around 15% of your daily calcium intake. Add to that, though, potassium, zinc, manganese and a few B vitamins (2,6, and 12) and you’ve got between 5-20% of your RDA for these nutrients. The amounts vary depending on number of cups and if you take it with or without milk.
While that may sound impressive, is it? Umm, yes, actually. Getting enough of the above nutrients is essential for growth. And I’m not just talking height. We all know calcium is important for healthy bones, but so is manganese as it also helps with cartilage formation. Zinc and B12 are central to tissue repair and nerve health, while potassium is also good for regulating fluid in the body. (Ladies, take note).
Tea is also chock-full of little health bombs called antioxidants. These protect us from nasties such as heart disease, cancers and strokes. They work in a mysterious way that has something to do with free radicals roaming your body trying to do harm. Antioxidants keep them in check. This means they help fight inflammation, boost your immune system and help counter-balance your cholesterol after a massive cheeseburger.
The particular type of antioxidants found in tea are called flavonoids. You can also find them in apples, onions and parsley. Personally though, I’d rather go for wine, tea and chocolate where they can also be found. The tea plant has the highest amount of flavonoids though and so counts for more than half the flavonoid consumption in tea-drinking Europe.
That doesn’t mean we can shun the fruits and vegetables however. The amount of flavonoids in your cup depends a lot on the quality of your tea—fresh loose leaf over tea bag is best. And also whether it’s black or green tea you’re drinking. Green tea has more of the so-called ‘simple antioxidants’ due to early picking, while black tea gets more oxygen and so has more ‘complex’ antioxidants.
Some recent studies have even gone on to suggest that around three cups of tea a day can help prevent against crippling long-term diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. There have been more concrete cases for tea helping with arthritis and preventing cancer.
For general, everyday health though, tea, green in particular, helps fight against plaque, wards off the flu and helps calm you down after a stressful meeting with your boss/mother-in-law/college professor thanks to its ability to help lower blood pressure. Plus, contrary to old wives tales, there is less caffeine in tea. Meaning you get that refreshed feeling without the mid-afternoon crash or not being able to sleep at night.
Of course, all of this goes out the window if you accompany your cup with a massive slice of cake. But everything in moderation. After all what is it they say about the 80/20 rule?