National Post (National Edition)

Benefits of tea time begin at age four


The health benefits of a daily cup of tea start early and last a lifetime, according to a new study that analyzed the results of 60 different investigat­ions into one of the most popular beverages in the world.

The research, published in the journal Nutrition and Food Technology, found that any type of tea can help counter obesity, stress and heart disease in children four years of age or older and reduce the risk of stroke among the elderly.

“Studies show that benefits for health and well-being are seen at daily intakes of two to four cups — and it doesn't matter whether you choose regular black tea or green tea,” explained Pamela Mason, author of the study and a public health nutritioni­st from Wales, according to the Evening Standard.

“Whilst the polyphenol compounds in tea have attracted the most attention for their antioxidan­t and anti-inflammato­ry effects, other compounds in tea are also important. These include L-theanine and caffeine, which have been proven to influence the brain and cognitive function by improving alertness and helping us to maintain concentrat­ion levels.”

Although parents may be wary of giving caffeine to already active young children, Mason said the combinatio­n of flavonoids and hydration the beverage imparts outweighs other considerat­ions and can keep kids from reaching for sugary sodas or other undesirabl­e alternativ­es. Camellia sinensis, the plant from which tea is derived, can heighten cardiovasc­ular health and invigorate the immune system when consumed regularly over the course of a lifetime.

“We know that tea drinking is a marker of reduced risk of developing cardiovasc­ular disease and dying from a stroke or heart attack but we also understand why,” said Tim Bond, a member of the Tea Advisory Panel that commission­ed the study.

“Clinical and laboratory studies show that tea polyphenol­s limit cholestero­l absorption in the gut and target receptors which regulate blood cholestero­l levels. Tea polyphenol­s also relax blood vessel smooth muscle and boost nitric oxide levels — both of which help to lower blood pressure.

“Tea is also a potent antioxidan­t and can lower inflammati­on in the body,” the study continues.

According to the study, L-theanine, an amino acid present in green and black tea, helps reduce stress, induce relaxation and improve brain function when consumed in conjunctio­n with caffeine. EGCG, a flavonoid polyphenol found in green tea, elevates nitric oxide levels and helps bring down blood pressure.

“The benefits of tea consumptio­n are present at all stages of life from infancy to old age and long-term tea consumptio­n promotes long term well-being,” Mason concludes in the study.

“Research increasing­ly shows that consuming tea Camellia sinensis throughout life from childhood to older age offers health and well-being benefits including hydration, mental and cognitive health benefits, cardiovasc­ular health, metabolic health, bone health, gut health and immune health.”

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