Tea offers health benefits

Selena Yakabe Columnist

Researchers have speculated in recent years that drinking tea provides a variety of health benefits for people.

Some of the different theories flying around are that tea, primarily green tea, can help prevent different kinds of cancers, improve bone density (most notably in older women), increase heart health, reduce the likelihood of arthritis, inhibit harmful dental bacteria growth, aid in weight loss and even induce relaxation according to the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. Although some of these issues are mostly dealt with by older generations, the younger population should be paying attention, too, because it is important to take care of one’s body early on in life as well as develop good habits sooner rather than later. 

According to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, tea’s magic comes from something called flavonoids, a group of polyphenols, which are strong antioxidants. Antioxidants have been connected with the impediment of free radical action (which, in turn, has been linked to cancer and other health issues). Due to this, tea is thought to aid in the prevention of oesophageal, stomach, ovarian and colon cancer according to the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition.

It is unclear why tea can potentially increase bone mineral density as well as prevent arthritis since few studies have investigated this correlation, but it is an interesting side note to keep in mind.

According to the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, in regards to cardio health, tea has been suggested to increase the “good” cholesterol and decrease the “bad,” thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Theanine, another important component of tea, is also linked to decreased blood pressure.

Tea, black tea more so than green, has also been thought to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria in the mouth and reduce gum inflammation according to the Nutrition Bulletin journal.

Theanine comes back into play with tea’s ability to stimulate relaxation. Theanine is associated with influencing brain activity and can relieve stress and anxiety while allowing the brain to remain alert and focused according to the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. Also according to this journal, the addition of green tea to an exercise routine may increase weight loss from the abdomen.

Though these studies and results are credible, it is important to keep everything in perspective. The trend seems to be that five to six cups of tea are recommended per day. That is a lot of tea, but considering the health benefits that these studies suggest, it makes it more than worthwhile. In some cases, these studies failed to eliminate other potential affecting factors, so more trials are needed in order to more closely link tea to these results as well as more fully understand why tea has these benefits. Drinking tea could merely have been an indication of someone who leads a “healthier” lifestyle in some of these studies, which may have affected some of the results.  So far, though, the results are promising, and no ill effects arise from drinking tea. Being a tea drinker seems like a win-win situation.

Much is still needed by way of research into these theories to make the evidence stronger and more concrete, but in the meantime, drinking tea is probably not a bad idea.

Selena Yakabe is a junior agricultural communicationas major at SDSU and she can be reached at [email protected]