There’s bags of goodness in a humble brew, says Liz Connor
SIPPING a soothing brew might seem like the most ordinary thing in the world, it could be doing some pretty extraordinary things for your health.
Evidence suggests four to five cups of black or green tea a day improves cardiovascular function, lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of a heart attack or stroke. It also lowers cholesterol and damps down inflammation, which can contribute to heart disease and other serious health problems. Dietician Dr Carrie Ruxton explains that high levels of natural polyphenol compounds, plus some fluoride and caffeine, give black tea many health benefits. “Tea has been valued for its special properties for thousands of years. Now backed by a weight of clinical evidence, we can see that tea really does deserve its status as a health promoter for our hearts, our brains, our waistlines, and even our oral health.”
Here, she outlines nine of the key health benefits associated with drinking tea... 1. Better blood pressure
According to a new study, drinking three cups of tea a day for six months reduces blood pressure and improves blood flow. 2. Lower cholesterol
Black and green tea reduce levels of the LDL cholesterol associated with cardiovascular risk, with those at highest risk seeing the greatest reduction. Green tea appears to have the most potent cholesterol-lowering power, delivering significant reductions in both LDL and total cholesterol levels. 3. Cuts stroke and heart attack risk
Drinking one to three cups of green tea a day reduces the risk of stroke by 36%, and the odds of having a heart attack by 19%. Similar effects are also seen for black tea. 4. Less inflammation
Tea reduces inflammation in the body significantly, according to a 2010 University of Mauritius study, which found that C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation, was cut by 53.4% in men and 41.1% in women at high risk of heart disease, when they drank three cups of black tea a day for 12 weeks. 5. Healthier teeth
Tea is a natural source of fluoride, which is important for protecting teeth against decay and gum disease. 6. Fresher breath Black tea has natural anti-bacterial properties, making it useful for reducing the bacteria that cause bad breath. 7. Brain boost
Studies show that people who drink tea regularly tend to have better cognitive function in older age, and experience less cognitive decline. 8. Concentration aid
There’s enough caffeine in two cups of tea to promote mental alertness and concentration, says Ruxton. A 2011 Dutch study found the black tea drinkers had significantly enhanced accuracy in attention tests, and higher self-reported alertness than those who drank a placebo. 9. Weight loss support
Studies show tea can help support weight loss, possibly because tea has a modest thermic effect, helping us to burn extra calories. A 2014 Norweigan study of 111 people found three cups of black tea a day for three months increased weight loss and reduced waist circumference, compared to those drinking a caffeine-matched control beverage. However, there was no evidence these effects were sustained beyond three months (and we don’t know the rest of their diet).
HANDY HELP: Drinking tea regularly is associated with better cognitive ability in older age.