8 health benefits of drinking tea

Since Ancient times, tea has been touted to help with everything from headaches to depression. New studies continue to unlock the medicinal benefits of tea.  Here, nutritionist Patricia Bannan gives us eight reasons to brew a few more cups

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    Dental Health

    Tea contains a small amount of natural fluoride, with mature leaves containing as much as 10 to 20 times the flouride levels of young leaves from the same plant.  Fluoride is a chemical that can help prevent tooth decay. When fluoride mixes with saliva, bacteria can’t produce the acid by-products that promote cavities.  Additionally, fluoride works to repair teeth in the early stages of tooth decay.
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    Flat Belly

    Studies show catechins (antioxidants) in green tea extract may trigger weight loss by stimulating the body to burn calories and decreasing body fat, especially in the abdominal (belly) area.  A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that, when compared to a control group, participants who consumed green tea and maintained an exercise program had greater reductions in their total abdominal fat area.  
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    Cancer Prevention

    Thanks to its polyphenols (the antioxidants found in tea), sipping on a cup may have cancer-fighting effects.  While the overall research is inconclusive, evidence shows the polyphenols in tea, particularly catechins, have biological activities that may be relevant to cancer prevention.   These antioxidants have also been shown to inhibit tumor growth: green teas specifically have been shown to activate detoxification enzymes that may help protect against tumor development. One study from Italy found drinking three cups of green tea daily prevented prostate cancer in men who had precancerous cells indicating the presence of the disease. However, because the studies are inconclusive, the National Cancer Institute does not recommend for or against the use of tea to reduce the risk of any type of cancer
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    It used to be that—because caffeine is a diuretic that increases urination-- caffeinated beverages weren’t listed as beverages for hydration. However, recent research has shown caffeinated beverages still contribute to our fluid needs. Scientists now agree the ‘eight glasses of water a day’ rule is misleading and drinks such as tea and coffee can hydrate the body just along with water. It’s still a good idea to aim for moderate caffeine intake, with no more than one to two cups at a time.  
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    Heart Health

    According to a study conducted in the Netherlands and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, drinking tea was associated with a more than 50 percent reduction in severe atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) in women who drank 1 to 2 cups a day.   The women who drank more than 5 cups of tea a day had the lowest risk of atherosclerosis. The study showed a similar trend in men. Another study, published in the journal Stroke, found that long-term consumption of black, green, oolong or white tea can cut the risk of strokes by as much as 60 percent. Researchers say the antioxidants, found abundantly in tea, may play a critical role in preventing heart diseases.
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    Brain Health

    Tea might be an effective agent in the prevention and treatment of neurological diseases, especially degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Research shows the polyphenols in green tea may help prevent neurotransmitters involved in brain function, like dopamine and epinephrine, from degrading. It may also inhibit senile plaques from depositing in the brain, which impairs cognition. Overall, one to two cups of green tea a day may boost your learning and memory.
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    Bone Health

    Green tea has been found to improve bone mineral density and strength. Studies have shown that elderly women who drank tea had higher bone density in their hips and less bone loss than women who didn't drink tea.  Researchers also say that these results confirm previous studies that have suggested drinking tea may protect against bone loss and osteoporosis. 
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    White tea has been found to be effective at fighting infections caused by staph and streptococcus bacteria, pneumonia and tooth decay. Unlike other types of tea, white tea undergoes very little processing and is not fermented, so it does not contain the high levels of tannins found in black and green tea. Researchers think the natural chemicals contained in white tea might provide many benefits to the immune system and overall health.
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