By Nicole Parmenter, Dietetic Intern for FitNutrition, LLC and Providence College Athletics with Katie Jeffrey, MS, RD, CSSD
My morning drink of pleasure has always been coffee. It wasn’t until I reached college, with the influence of my roommate, that I started to take an active interest in tea. From there, my interest grew and I began to nourish it by discovering the benefits of tea, through research. Here is what I found:
Most tea varieties are derived from the Camellia sinensis plant which is indigenous to both China and India. The most common forms of tea that offer the most health benefits are green, black, oolong and white. Tea may be fermented, dried, aged and/or cured. The more processed the tea leaves are, the less antioxidant content they will have, reducing their overall health benefits. But don’t be fooled, they still contain anti-oxidizing power!
Herbal teas, which do not contain actual tea leaves, typically consist of fruit, herbs, seeds, roots and flower petals. Like the other tea varieties, herbal teas are also a great coffee alternative and usually contain less caffeine than black or green teas. However, unlike black and green teas, herbal teas have a much lower antioxidant concentration and their health claims are largely unsupported by scientific evidence.
What makes a particular tea unique is the specific types of antioxidants (also known as polyphenols) that it contains. The main health-promoting polyphenols in tea are catechins. Emerging evidence supports the role of catechins in the prevention of diseases. The most abundant and potent catechin in tea is known as EGCG. Current research continues to point toward the health benefits of green, white and black teas because of their high EGCG content, which has been widely studied. EGCG has shown considerable benefits of usage in the prevention of certain cancers, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, tumor growth, heart disease, periodontal disease and for its ability to help lower cholesterol.
Whether you use tea bags or loose leaves, like your tea iced or hot, weak or strong, get brewin’ to enjoy the benefits. Drink your way to a healthier you!
Edgar, Julie. “Types of Teas and Their Health Benefits.” WebMD. WebMD, 20 March 2009. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.
“Health Benefits Linked to Drinking Tea.” Harvard Men’s Health Watch. Harvard Health Publications. Sept. 2014. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.
Pruess, Joanna and Neva Cochran. “The Health Benefits of Tea.” Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Apr. 2013. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.