Food Focus: Tea

It is CHRISTMAS WEEK! South Florida even graced us with some yummy cold weather (fourties!) this past week so I am have been defrosting this thin blood with some hot tea. Comforting. Plus the nutrition benefits make it one of the healthiest beverages on planet earth!

Cozy up with a piping mug and read on...

There are 4 kinds of nonherbal tea - green, black, white, and oolong (red). The all come from the same plant, an evergreen called Camellia sinensis that lives in warm weather. The key to the benefits of tea are found in a large group of protective plant-based compounds called polyphenols. These chemicals are powerful antioxidants, which as we've learned help with a slew of health issues by protecting cells from the normal but damaging process of oxidative stress. Polyphenols can stop the damage free radicals cause cells. For more in depth info about antioxidants, search that keyword on this site or click on related posts.

The color of the tea depends on the degree of processing they go through after the leaves are harvested.

Black - fully fermented

Oolong - partially fermented

Green - not fermented (pan fried + dried)

White - barely processed

The processing does not chance the chemical compositions, so they all have health benefits. Both green and black tea fight against cancer. The flavonoids in black tea helps reduce the production of LDL, our "bad" cholesterol. It also helps blood vessels function, prevents strokes and heart attacks. My cute Irish grandpa drank black tea every day when I was a little girl and he lived into his late nineties!

Green tea has a polyphenol called catechin (EGCG) which you might have seen. It stands for epigallocatechin gallate and is believed to be responsible for it's anti-cancer effects. It actually inhibits the growth of cancer cells. Green tea also helps reduce your risk of coronary artery disease and releases the feel-good hormone dopamine! Also great for natural weight loss. #pouron

White tea contains the same types of antioxidants as green tea, but in greater quantity because it is less processed. It also has less caffeine if that is something you are concerned about. It improves oral and reproductive health!

Diabetics, listen up! Drinking oolong tea every day for at least a month has been shown to decrease blood glucose levels significantly in patients with diabetes as compared to those drinking only water and following the same diet. It also prevents bone loss and helps with the appearance of eczema!

Snuggle up with your loved ones this holiday season and reap the benefits of seeping this magnificent plant leaf! And from my family to yours...have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sources and Additional Reading:

150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. Bowden, Jonny. 2007.

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