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Tea, the humble 'cuppa' packed with medicinal values

Tea is a wonder beverage. Not only is it stimulating like coffee, it is loaded with antioxidants, polyphenols and catechins that help to lower risks of stroke, aids weight loss, protects our bones and teeth, boosts the immune system and even fights cancer.

Tea, whether it is white, green, black, oolong, offers plenty of medicinal benefits. Taken in any form, tea is always an energising stimulant that is virtually free of calories, as long as nothing is added to it.

Tea's Contribution to heart health

Tea's biggest role is probably in heart health. This is due to the presence of antioxidants in tea. Antioxidants that are present in tea are different from the antioxidants that we get from fruits and vegetables. These antioxidants are bioflavonoid, which are plant chemicals that boost the immune system and have anti-inflammatory properties.

Each type of tea also contains a different type of antioxidant, with different effects on the body.

For example, green tea contains an antioxidant that is associated with cholesterol. Green tea lowers bad cholesterol or LDL. It also boosts HDL, which is good cholesterol. By removing bad cholesterol from the arteries, it can prevent blockage of the arteries. Drinking a cup of green tea every day can prevent strokes and heart attacks. The flavonoids in tea prevent the blood platelets from forming blood clots, thereby reducing the chance of stroke. They also arrest the damage caused by free radicals to the arteries another cause for stroke.

Black tea is full of antioxidants called polyphenols that have also been associated with lower risks of atherosclerosis and heart attacks.

Drinking a cup of oolong tea daily has been known to lower cholesterol and prevent hardening of the arteries as well.

Anti-Cancer benefits of tea

Recently, there have been many reports suggesting that tea has anti-cancer benefits. There have been many studies carried out to find out if there is any truth in tea's anti-cancer abilities. But the reports don't all say the same things.

While the evidence from scientific studies is not very definite as to whether or not tea has a direct effect on cancer, as of now, scientists are hopeful. There are some studies that have shown that polyphenols such as catechins, which are present in tea, may have some role in preventing cancer. Many more studies are required to find definite proof.

The perfect weight loss beverage

Some studies have shown that tea may help with weight loss. Compounds called thearubigins and theaflavins present in tea may help with weight loss. These polyphenols are believed to be able to fight the absorption of fat in the body.

To enjoy these benefits of tea, however, you have to drink tea without milk. Milk interferes with the effects of polyphenols and you don't get the benefits of these compounds. No matter which type of tea you drink – black tea, white tea, oolong tea, green tea, etc. - make sure you drink it black, without dairy whitener or milk.

It fights and prevents tooth decay

There is some evidence to suggest that drinking a cup of green tea a day may help you protect your teeth against tooth loss. This may have something to do with the pH of tea. Some researchers say that tea may be able to lower the pH of the surface of teeth. This can help to suppress the growth of bacteria in the mouth.

Other researchers suggest that tea may prevent tooth loss because it contains fluoride. This fluoride comes from soil, and the tea plant can easily absorb a lot of fluoride from the ground. Fluoride helps to protect teeth enamel from erosion by acid that is produced by oral bacteria that feed on sugars. Tea also contains tannins which are another super fighter against tooth decay.

More benefits of tea

  • Some studies indicate that the flavonoids in tea cut the risk of infections. This is because tea is known to curtail the growth of harmful bacteria
  • Tea has copious amounts of theophylline present in it, a compound quite similar to the drug methylxanthine. This compound is known to dilate and clear air passages to enable easy breathing in individuals with respiratory disorders, such as asthma and other constrictive lung disorders
  • Tea has tannins similar to that present in wine. Tannins are chemicals that fuse together surface proteins present in the mouth. This creates that familiar tightening feeling that one experiences after a few gulps of either wine or tea. In the mouth, the tannins bind and cripple the bacteria that forms plaque

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

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