(Health Secrets) In the past, many people seemed to think tea should be consumed only occasionally. Today, we are realizing that drinking tea is just as rehydrating as water is, and tea has the additional benefits of protecting against heart disease and strengthening bones, according to a UK study. The study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that the idea of tea being dehydrating is untrue, and that tea actually offers a variety of health benefits.
What makes tea healthy?
Tea leaves contain a substance known as flavonoids, which are also found in a variety of other foods and plants. Flavonoids are polyphenol antioxidants that are known to prevent cell damage, thereby protecting against a variety of diseases, including cancer and heart disease.
The study by Kings College, London, used a variety of previously published studies on the health effects of tea consumption. The scientists found clear evidence that drinking three to four cups of tea every day could reduce the risk of a heart attack. Although the evidence was less clear cut, there was also an indication that the same amount of tea could offer protection from various cancers.
But doesn’t drinking tea dehydrate?
The assumption that tea is dehydrating comes from the knowledge that it contains caffeine, and large doses of caffeine can be dehydrating. However, researchers believe it is a myth that tea is dehydrating, and even with very strong tea, there will not be enough caffeine to have a dehydrating effect.
According to Dr. Ruxton, lead researcher, “Studies on caffeine have found very high doses dehydrate and everyone assumes that caffeine-containing beverages dehydrate. But even if you had a really, really strong cup of tea or coffee, which is quite hard to make, you would still have a net gain of fluid.”
Experts suggest that everyone should aim for a fluid intake of two litres per day, and this research indicates that tea can be included in that. This may not be difficult to accomplish given the many teas on today’s market from which to choose. Even bottled teas are available but read the label carefully for added chemicals in these.
The one downside of tea drinking is that it can reduce the body’s ability to absorb iron from food, so if that is a concern for you, drink tea before mealtimes, especially if you are prone to anemia.
Research supported by Dutch study
The news that tea is a healthy option will come as no surprise to scientists in The Netherlands, who have conducted a study into the health benefits of tea and coffee over 13 years, involving 40,000 people.
The results of this study, which were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, indicate that drinking more than six cups of tea every day can cut the risk of developing heart disease by around one third. There were similar health benefits seen with coffee drinking, although four cups per day was the maximum and the reduction was around 20%.
Lead researcher, Professor van der Schouw said “It’s basically a good news story for those who like tea and coffee. These drinks appear to offer benefits for the heart without raising the risk of dying from anything else.”
Other food that contains flavonoids
For those who aren’t keen on drinking four cups of tea every day, there are various other substances that contain antioxidant flavonoids. These include:
- Citrus fruits
- Red wine
- Dark chocolate
Flavonoids can also be found in extract of gingko biloba, which can be taken as a daily dietary supplement of between 40 and 200mg per day.
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