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THE CUP THAT CHEERS

 

New research suggests that tea is a very rich source of antioxidants than most of fruits and vegetables. The human body rapidly absorbs tea antioxidants and the addition of milk does not impair the quality of the flavonoids....

For many years, research has pointed to the health benefits of fruits and vegetables that contain antioxidant compounds called flavonoids that may prevent heart disease.

Now new research is showing that flavonoids in black and green tea may also reduce the ability of platelets to form clots on the arterial wall that can ultimately lead to coronary heart disease and heart attacks. Flavonoids in black and green tea may also help prevent other chronic diseases, including cancer and stroke, by neutralizing free radicals that can damage tissues, cells and genes.

The recent research conducted at Unilever Research Laboratories by Dr. P. Quinlan, has indicated a strong link between drinking tea and an increase in memory, alertness, reaction time and a positive result on other mental and physical attributes.

According to Dr. Quinlan, "Drinking tea three to four times a day can help prevent a decline in alertness and mental performance." The researcher points that though there may be other factors in play the main reason for a boost in alertness is caffeine. One cup of tea has 40 milligrams of caffeine which is less than that found in 1/2 a cup of coffee.

The study included 19 healthy volunteers who drank 400 ml. of black tea, coffee, caffeinated water, decafeinated tea or plain water on three occasions throughout the day. Psychometric tests [including tests to determine short-term memory, reaction time, alertness and others] were performed regularly.

It was seen that tea in particular prevented the steady decline in alertness and cognitive capacity observed in volunteers who drank other beverages. Tea consumption was associated with a slightly higher critical flicker fusion [CFF] threshold, which is a measure of a person's ability to distinguish discrete sensory data. Tea also was associated with significantly less variation in CFF level throughout the day.

Earlier, at a conference on dietary antioxidants held at Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Centre at Tufts University in Boston, presentations made by researchers pointed out that tea is a rich source of antioxidants called flavonoids. Scientific research and epidemiological evidence continues to show that the intake of antioxidants from natural source is an effective way to maintain good health.

Flavonoids give flavour to tea. These compounds are most common in green tea, but are also present in varying degrees in black teas as well. Flavonoids kill cell-damaging free radicals, which are linked to cancer, atherosclerosis and heart attack. Flavonoids decrease risk of cataract and slow the progression of Parkinson's disease.

Another research by the American Heart Association says that drinking tea promotes healthy arteries and tea drinkers have a lower risk of heart attack and stroke. Research shows that drinking tea relaxes and dilates arteries, increasing blood flow to the heart.

The bulk of research on antioxidants to date has been focused on Vitamin C and Vitamin E. It was found that tea has greater antioxidant capacity than most fruits and vegetables per serving and is more potent than Vitamin C and E. Besides, tea provides iodine and fluoride. Iodine plays an important role in preventing hyperthyroidism. Fluoride is an ingredient of bone, teeth, hair and nails. Ten grams of tea leaves used for making tea are enough to meet the need of fluoride for human being and to prevent tooth decay

A cup of tea has been found to be over three times more effective than a serving of most common vegetables and two times more effective than a serving of most common fruits. Drinking tea results in increased antioxidant activity in the body and adding milk to tea does not lessen this effect.

Though most scientists point to the need for further studies to establish a definitive link between tea drinking and health, the current research is unearthing a treasure of the many benefits about this age-old beverage that was discovered over 5,000 years ago when a few leaves fell into China's Emperor Shen Nung's cup.

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