What are the health benefits of tea?

Dr. Maoshing Ni, PhD, LAc
Geriatric Medicine Specialist

All of the varieties of tea have different health benefits. Experts believe that flavonoids are the key health-promoting ingredient in tea. These polyphenol antioxidants are present in many foods and plants, including tea leaves, and have been found to help prevent cell damage. Research suggests that tea may also protect against heart disease and many types of cancer.

What about herbal tea? Herbal tea is not really tea at all, but actually an infusion made from various leaves, flowers, fruits and herbs. Herbal tea can also boast many medicinal properties—and it's caffeine-free. Tailor your tea for your needs by selecting herbs and plants that address your specific health issue.

The use of tea for medicinal purposes can be traced back more than a thousand years. We still drink tea for its health benefits and science increasingly is supporting tea's medicinal claims.

Tea contains antioxidants known as catechins and flavonoids, which help fight a number of diseases such as certain types of cancer and heart disease. While research is still preliminary, studies show some benefit from consuming tea, both green and black, in the prevention of cancer and heart disease.

Remember, tea is a source of caffeine. If that's a concern, drink decaffeinated tea or be moderate in your consumption of regular tea.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

It's basic, old-fashioned and no frills, but black tea is a great source of flavonoids, a potent heart disease and cancer fighter. Don't dilute its healthful properties by adding too much cream or sugar; sip it straight. A 100 count package is less than $5.

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The British have the right idea when they brew a pot of tea in stressful times. Turns out, black tea is rich in stress-busting antioxidants, including polyphenols, flavonoids and amino acids. There's also some evidence that green tea can help lower harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Both black and green teas, which can help fight against heart disease, contain certain flavonoids called catechins, which are phytochemicals that have been shown to help maintain healthy blood vessels. The catechins appear to work their magic by increasing the nitric oxide production in the blood vessels. Nitric oxide is a substance in the body that can increase the dilation or relaxing of the blood vessels and inhibit the clumping of platelets that are part of artery-clogging plaque as well as the formation of blood clots. The combination of the constriction of the blood vessels, the buildup and rupture of the plaque, and the presence of a blood clot are the causes of most heart attacks and strokes.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.