Tea is an aromatic stimulant containing various polyphe-
nols, essential oils and caffeine. The tea plant itself is
Camellia sinensis
, a native of Southeast Asia. Tea brewed
from dried leaves of this plant has been drunk in China
since the 10th century BC. Tea is drunk by about half of
the world’s population, and China, India, Indonesia and Sri
Lanka are the main producers of tea. Leaf buds and young
leaves, called tips, are also used in making tea, the age and
size of the leaves determine the taste and name of the par-
ticular commercial variety.
History of Tea
A Chinese Emperor was boiling drinking water, and some
leaves from a nearby Camellia plant floated into the pot. The
emperor drank the mixture, and declared it to give vigor
and contentment to the body. As testament to this, tea is
second only to water in worldwide consumption. In the US,
2.25 billion gallons of tea are drunk in one form or another,
whether it be hot, iced, flavored or spiced.
Medical Benefits of Tea
Recent research suggests drinking tea may help prevent
everything from cavities to Parkinson’s disease. Below are
some of the conditions that may be prevented by drinking tea:
Arthritis:
Research suggests that older women who drink
tea are 60% less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
Bone density:
Drinking tea regularly may produce stronger
bones, leading to higher bone mineral density in one’s spine.
Cancer:
Green tea extracts were found to inhibit growth of
bladder cancer cells in the lab, while other studies suggest
that drinking green tea protects against developing stomach
and esophageal cancers.
Flu:
You may be able to boost your fight against flu with black
tea. In a recent study, people who gargled with a black tea
extract solution twice a day showed a higher immunity to the
flu virus.
Heart Disease:
A recent study suggested that drinking
more than two cups a day of tea decreases the risk of death
following a heart attack by 44%. Tea is a rich source of fla-
vonoids, and high dietary intake is associated with reduced
risk of fatal heart attacks.
High Blood Pressure:
Drinking a half cup of green or oolong
tea per day reduces a person’s risk of high blood pressure by
almost 50%.
Oral Health:
Rinsing with black tea may prevent cavities
and gum disease.
Immune Health:
Tea has been shown to boost the body’s
defence mechanism against many other illnesses.
What’s Responsible for Tea’s many
Health Benefits?
It is the chemical flavonoids and polyphenols in tea, both
natural classes of antioxidants, that rid the body of mol-
ecules called free radicals, which are by-products of damage
done to the body by pollution and the natural aging process.
Hibiscus teas contain a number of different antioxidants that
may help to protect against cell damaging free radicals, you
can find hibiscus in such teas as sour tea, red zinger tea and
sorrel tea. Black and green both have different types of anti-
oxidants than fruits and vegetables.
Green Tea vs Black Tea
Black, green and herbal teas are all made from the plant,
Camellia Sinensis
, but differ in their methods of preparation.
All tea leaves are withered, rolled and heated, but black teas
go through an oxidative process called fermentation before
the final heating step.
Herbal teas are not derived from the above mentioned plant,
but from leaves, bark, roots, seeds and flowers of other
plants. Oolong teas are not really associated with the many
healing benefits that black and green teas have.
Green tea, which can be drunk or swallowed in the form of
a capsule or tablet, is thought to reduce the risk of cancer,
lower lipid (cholesterol) blood levels, prevent dental cavities
and treat stomach ailments, such as diarrhea and vomit-
ing. There are some possible side effects, however. Drinking
large amounts of green tea may cause heartburn, stomach
irritation and loss of appetite. Green tea has caffeine in it,
which could also cause nervousness, insomnia, frequent uri-
nation and increase in blood pressure.
Green tea is the best food source of a chemical group called
catechins. In test tubes, catechins are more powerful than
vitamins C and E in halting oxidative damage to cells and
appear to have other disease-fighting properties as well.
Studies have found an association between consuming green
tea and a reduced risk for several cancers, including, skin,
breast, lung, colon, esophageal, and bladder.
Additional benefits for regular consumers of green and
black teas include a reduced risk for heart disease. The
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