Health Benefits of Tea
07/05/2004
An ancient tradition in China and India, tea drinking has long been believed to have exceptional health benefits. The wide range of proposed benefits includes everything from weight loss to cancer treatment and prevention. But which type of tea carries which healthy benefits?

All teas come from an evergreen shrub called Camellia sinensis. The type of tea is determined by how they are processed after the leaves are picked. It is thought that these teas were named by the color of the beverage produced. Black tea is withered, fully oxidized and dried, whereas green tea is not oxidized. White tea is a rare tea from China made from leaves that are withered and dried by steaming. Most restaurant iced teas are black tea-based.

Other varieties include herbal teas, which are made from plants other than the Camellia sinensis, and oolong tea, a sweet cross between green and black teas often enjoyed in China.

Studies have shown that:

  • Tea can ease upset stomach, indigestion and diarrhea.
  • The fluoride naturally present in all teas may fight tooth decay and help heal gum infections.
  • Antioxidants in tea have been linked to cancer prevention. White tea, being the least-processed of all the teas, retains the highest amount of these antioxidants.
  • Tea drinking may also help lower blood pressure, and therefore reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Green teas may help the body block developing plaque in arteries.
  • Green teas may help with weight loss by speeding up fat oxidation.
  • Drinking highly concentrated forms of green or black tea could lower your LDL, or "bad cholesterol."
  • Green tea may be useful in avoiding sun-induced skin damage.
  • Green and black teas may prevent or lessen the effect of arthritis.
  • Green and black teas may help to prevent degenerative brain diseases.
  • White tea is especially effective at fighting germs and helping to prevent common infections.

Integrate tea into your diet by replacing your morning coffee with hot tea, or drinking a cup after dinner or at bedtime.  WebMD suggests buying tea bags and brewing tea yourself in order to achieve tea’s maximum benefits.

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