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Tea and Your Health

June 12, 2018

By Emma Stafford, RN, APN-C, ACHPN, APHN

Integrative Nurse Practitioner

I was admiring my tea cup collection this week and offering gratitude for all the wonderful and healing cups of tea that they have given me. I would like to share with you some of the known health benefits of some of my favorite teas.

All tea, in general, is refreshing and contains no sodium, fat, carbonation or calories. More than that, it adds to your daily hydration requirement (half your body weight in ounces of water daily). In addition, tea contains flavonoids, naturally occurring compounds that have antioxidant powers that may provide important health benefits. Typically, caffeine levels for tea are less than half of those for coffee, ranging from 20-90 mg per eight ounces compared to 50-120 mg in coffee.

Studies have shown decreased incidence of heart attack  in those drinking black tea, whereas green tea was associated with lowering total cholesterol, LDL (the lousy cholesterol), triglycerides and increasing HDL levels (the healthy cholesterol). This benefit is due to the antioxidant effects in tea.

A study published in the February 2015 issue of the Journal of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found that the main antioxidant in green tea, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), helps kill cancer cells through the destruction of the cells’ mitochondria.

According to research presented at the 2007 Scientific Symposium on Tea and Health, theanine, an amino acid that is for the most part uniquely found in tea (green and black), may help prevent age-related memory decline.

Besides black and green teas, I also enjoy herbal teas, although the studies on these teas have not been as robust. A study on Hibiscus tea showed that three cups daily lowered blood pressure in people with slightly elevated levels. Chamomile tea acts as an anti-spasmodic and can help those with irritable bowel and ginger tea benefits those with nausea (and much healthier than ginger-ale).

Consider the quality, savoring every sip, and mindfully enjoying the taste, the smell, as well as sharing the company of those you are drinking it with. I l use high quality, loose leaf, organic tea that is brewed at just the right temperature for the type of tea I am drinking. Boiling water can damage the delicate leaves of green and white teas. Tea in front of the fire in winter or on the porch on a summer’s night conjures up all kinds of warm memories. I enjoy drinking from different cups from bone china cups to my favorite ‘gratitude’ mug. But perhaps my favorite tea time is with my grandchildren using a tiny porcelain tea set that sits in my china cabinet and is reserved just for our tea parties! They delight in smelling the different flavors, picking their favorite one, and watching it brew in the clear glass teapot. Ahhh, so healing!

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