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Tea’s Health Protection

By now, most of us have heard that tea helps protect our health and prevent disease. But, research has often been inconsistent, and we may not yet fully know the potential of tea or exactly how it works.

One thing’s for sure: the key lies in tea’s anti-oxidants. Antioxidants are substances that may protect cells from the hurt caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. Free radical hurt may lead to cancer. Antioxidants interact with and stabilize free radicals and may prevent some of the hurt free radicals otherwise might cause. Examples of antioxidants include beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamins C, E, and A, as well as other substances found mostly in plant products.

Tea is one of the best sources of anti-oxidants. This plant contains many different forms of anti-oxidant, with EGCG being the most plentiful. EGCG makes up about 30% of tea’s total anti-oxidant value. And, this is excellent news because EGCG is a very potent anti-oxidant.

Over the years, there have been many studies examining the role of tea in disease prevention. Some of the diseases that tea may have the power to prevent include:

• Cancer

• Heart Disease

• Type II Diabetes

• Alzheimer’s Disease

• Parkinson’s Disease

In addition, tea has been shown to help manage weight, prevent tooth decay and even strengthen bones. But, in many cases, we don’t know exactly which anti-oxidants in tea perform what functions, or how they all work together to prevent disease.

For example, some studies have shown that tea prevented disease, but not in the way that was expected. One study on tea’s ability to reverse endothelial dysfunction raised as many questions as it answered.

This study showed that consumption of tea did raise the catechin level in the body. (Catechins are vital tea anti-oxidants). But, this increase in catechins in the body did not directly correlate to the reversal of endothelial dysfunction. Yet, the study participants who drank tea did have a reversal of endothelial dysfunction. The researchers were just not clearly able to pinpoint exactly what about the tea caused the improvement.

So, another study, reported by the UK Tea Council, took a look at each anti-oxidant in tea, analyzing each one’s metabolic properties individually.

This study found ten different phenolics from green and black tea. The study concluded that EGCG was the most potent and the most abundant. This is the reason that green tea is often recommended over black tea. Black tea undergoes a fermentation process that reduces the amount of EGCG that the tea contains. Since EGCG is the most potent anti-oxidant found in tea, green tea is thought to be the most effective at disease prevention.

But, black tea does contain anti-oxidants. Its most potent anti-oxidant is thearubigins, whose benefits we don’t quite know. But, we believe thearubigins are extremely vital because after analysis of both theaflavins and phenolics in black tea, 80% of black tea’s anti-oxidant activity was still unaccounted for.

So, just what does this tell us? Well, it tells us that we need more research. We know that tea is healthy and full of anti-oxidants, and we know that anti-oxidants prevent disease. But, we still don’t precisely know exactly how the anti-oxidants work and which tea compounds are effective on which diseases.

In the mean time, but, drink your tea. Most researchers will tell you that green tea is likely the most beneficial, but if black tea is your passion, don’t give it up. As time goes on, well learn more about exactly how tea works, but we do know that there’s no downside to drinking tea.

Tea is healthy. It’s lower in caffeine than coffee and sodas, so it is well tolerated even by most people who are caffeine sensitive. Tea contains fluoride, making it healthy for your teeth. And, drinking tea has no side effects.

Tea is also inexpensive and simple to come by. As it has gained popularity, it is simpler to find than ever. You can buy loose tea, tea bags or any number of bottled teas, many in exotic flavors. There are literally hundreds of specialty tea companies today that specialize in bringing the world’s most tasty teas to connoisseurs.

Many of the world’s finest teas are still grown in Asia, but there are also many from India. Have some fun by experimenting with different tea varieties and flavors so that you can learn the wide range of teas that are available. Each growing region of the world produces a slightly different flavor, so there are hundreds of nuances to experience.

So, whatever your pleasure, there’s a tea out there for you. Drink it hot or cold, brewed or bottled, with added milk or sugar. But, drink it! We’re likely just learning all the ways that tea can keep us healthy!

Jon M. Stout is the Chairman of the Golden Moon Tea Company. Golden Moon Tea carefully selects the finest rare and orthodox teas, which are processed slowly and handcrafted with extreme care. At their website, you can learn more about their current

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