Cuppa com­fort

There’s bags of good­ness in a hum­ble brew, says Liz Con­nor

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - This Week -

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.

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