Can drinking tea have health benefits? Laboratory studies have been conducted and show some positive signs that tea can have healthy benefits and effects in humans. However, for further proof, many more tests and studies need to be conducted. So, what are the preliminary findings?
The history behind tea being healthy started when the Chinese emperor, Shennong, discovered the Camellia sinensis plant almost five thousand years ago.
The four major types of tea are black, white, green and oolong. Black tea is the most popular type in the United States. Green tea, which is most popular in Asia, is the tea most studied, and is the type that shows the most health benefits.
Green tea contains higher amounts of the ingredient EGCG than black tea. When black tea is processed, it removes some of the catechins, an ingredient found in teas coming from the Camellia sinensis plant. Decaffeinating tea reduces the level of catechins even further.
A study in Japan, showed that the ones who drank five or more cups of green tea a day had a 16% lower rate of cardiovascular disease and death, compared to those who drank less than one cup a day. The same study showed that women who drank five or more cups of green tea a day had a 31% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death, compared to those who had less than one cup a day.
A lab study conducted on mice showed that consumption of green tea extract can boost endurance. However, the results showed that just one dose of the green tea extract wouldn’t make a difference. The benefits in mice were only seen after long-term ingestion. Athletes weighing approximately 165 pounds wanting a boost in endurance would need to drink four or more cups of green tea a day to equal the amount given to the mice.
Another study also showed that long-term ingestion of catechins, the ingredient found in every tea of the Camellia sinensis plant, can fight obesity in humans on a high-fat diet and may result in weight loss over time. It is becoming widely known that scientists believe a steady diet rich in green tea extract and EGCG can also lead to weight loss by increasing metabolism and burning calories and fat at a faster rate.
Some studies show that the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, liver disease, cancer and other diseases can be lowered by drinking a few cups of green tea a day. Green tea has anywhere from 15 and 50 milligrams of caffeine, and a study showed that this can help prevent Parkinson’s disease and may lead to a temporary increase in short term memory. However, caffeine can be addictive and in excess, can lead to sleep disorders. Scientists have also said that drinking green tea may help to prevent breast and prostate cancer.
Drinking black tea daily is shown to have an effect on stress hormones, which may help to relieve stress. A study conducted on coffee and black tea drinkers showed that the production of antibacterial proteins was five times higher in tea drinkers, which helps to promote a stronger immune system.
More research needs to be done to support the claims on whether or not drinking tea can have health benefits. But if you love tea, two or three cups a day may not hurt.