Top Health Benefits of Tea

Prior to the health benefits of tea being well understood, the history of tea began in 2737 B.C. when camellia leaves fell into a vat of boiling water. The alluring fragrance enticed the inquisitive Chinese Emperor Shennong to sample the brew. He pronounced that the elixir was medicinal and imparted vigor to the body.

Tea began its worldwide conquest in teahouses throughout China, Korea and Japan. In the 16th Century, tea stormed the shores of Western civilization, frequented the inner sanctum of Europe’s aristocracy and lit the fuse that ignited the American Revolution. Today, tea is second only to water which refuses to relinquish its title as the world’s most consumed beverage.

Global Tea Production
Tea is a mountainous crop grown in 36 countries. The predominant tea-producing regions are China, Japan, Russia, Ceylon, Formosa, India and East Africa.

There are thousands of distinct varieties of tea that fall into four principal categories. They are black tea, green tea, white tea and oolong tea. Every variety of tea originates from one plant, the Camellia Sinensis. The soil, climate, altitude and manufacturing process imparts the unique characteristics and flavors of tea with the length of oxidization during processing giving rise to several different types of tea.

Nutritional Facts
Tea’s meager nutritional facts conceal it status as one of the top superfoods that has caught the eye of many researchers who are investigating the health benefits of tea. One 237 gram serving provides 2 calories and 0% of your daily requirements for minerals, vitamins, protein, carbohydrates, sodium, cholesterol and fat.

The caffeine level of tea is influenced by several factors, such as brewing time, temperature, grade and variety. It is estimated that tea releases large quantities of its caffeine within half a minute of brewing. If you wish to reduce your intake of caffeine, you can quickly pour out this brew and add fresh water.

How to Use Tea
The most popular way to enjoy tea is as a beverage. You can steep it in hot water as either a teabag or as loose leaf tea, use an instant powder or buy a prepared drink in a can or bottle. It is also available as wine, hard candy, jelly and a pastry.

Health Benefits of Teas
As Emperor Shennong surmised nearly 5,000 years ago, tea is a health tonic. The Camellia plant is a rich source of polyphenol and flavonoid antioxidants. These are naturally occurring substances that prevent and reverse the DNA and cellular membrane damage inflicted by free radicals.These molecules are linked to a wide range of diseases, such as cancers, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and premature aging. Tea has 800 to 1000% more polyphenols than vegetables and fruits.

One cup of white tea has the equivalent amount of antioxidants as 80 ounces of apple juice. The longer fermentation period of black tea reduces its level of antioxidants. Green tea has a higher level of antioxidants than black tea. Research indicates that brewing tea for 1 to 5 minutes is the best way to obtain its health benefits.

Heart Disease
The antioxidants in tea are believed to reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke by lowering cholesterol levels, oxidative stress and improving blood vessel dilation. Tea also significantly reduces atherosclerosis and triglycerides.

People who consistently drink three to four cups of black tea have lower rates of stroke and heart disease. A statistical analysis of multiple studies demonstrated that drinking three cups of tea a day decreased the risk of heart attack by 11%.

A 5-year study of 805 men showed an inverse relationship between the dose of tea and the incidence of death from stroke and lethal and non-lethal first heart attack.

Cancer
Tea reduces the incidence of cancer by fighting free radical damage, reducing abnormal cell growth and aiding normal cell death. Regular tea consumption is associated with a reduced risk for lung, ovarian, oral, skin and digestive cancer.

A study of smokers who consumed 4 cups of decaffeinated green tea a day had a 31% reduction in oxidative DNA damage when compared to a control group that drank 4 cups of water.

Drinking black tea dramatically lowers the risk of a form of skin cancer. A population-based study revealed an inverse relationship between tea consumption rectal, colon and pancreatic cancers.

A 1998 Stage I and II breast cancer study demonstrated that Japanese women who drank more than 5 cups of green tea per day were less likely to have disease recurrence and were disease-free longer.

Health Benefits of Pomegranate Juice

It shouldn’t come as a surprise the health benefits of pomegranate juice. Despite pomegranates not having loads of nutrients compared to other fruits, pomegranate juice has antioxidants (and lots of them) and a good amount of health benefits.

Growing up there would be no shortage of this fruit in my household. It seemed as though week after week my mother would break open this big fruit, fill up a bowl of the edible seeds and I’d be eating them by the spoonful. This fruit is commonly used in Persian and Mediterranean cuisine.

Whole fruit Version vs. Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranates take a good amount of time in order to get to the edible red “bulbs” on the inside. And considering the fast-paced, busy lifestyle these days I completely understand why most wouldn’t bother with the whole fruit version. Come to think of it, the only times I ate the fruit version is when it’s already been extracted for me. (Thanks mom!)

But does that mean that pomegranate juice is not as beneficial as the fruit version? Absolutely not!

Pomegranate has gotten its reputation as a superfood based almost entirely from the health benefits of pomegranate juice and from some of the pomegranate extract products.

70+ years of research has gone into discovering the pomegranate juice benefits. A good majority of this research has been done in the last 10 years as a result of pomegranate’s increase in popularity. In short, there’s a lot of research supporting the health benefits of pomegranate juice.

One study which stuck out to me was done at UCLA that showed pomegranate juice having the highest antioxidant capacity when compared to red wine, tea and other commercial juices.

Research at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology also confirmed that pomegranates contain a higher amount of flavonoids (a type of antioxidant) than those found in grapes.

What To Expect…

Let’s go over the nutritional profile before we go into the health benefits of the juice.
It is a good source of Vitamin C, Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5), Folate, Potassium and Vitamin K.

But their real claim to fame are the antioxidants it has! Both the whole fruit and juice version are loaded with antioxidant polyphenols similar to those found in wine and tea.

They also have some other interesting antioxidants… punicalagins & anthocyanins to be exact.

Anthocyanins are found in blueberries & acai. Studies have shown it may be effective against cardiovascular disease, aging/neurological disorders, bacterial infections & inflammation.

Punicalagins so far have only been found in pomegranate and has been under the scientific community’s spotlight for its anti-disease and anti-cancer benefits.

Benefits

Some of the health benefits of pomegranate juice include:
• Promotes Heart Health

• Great for Men’s Health – There are 2 parts… protects against prostate cancer & fights off erectile dysfunction.

• May help to slow down the aging process and beneficial in maintaining the elasticity/health of your skin

Other health benefits include its anti-inflammatory properties, antibacterial/antiviral benefits, and the ability to control diabetes.

Detective’s Verdict

Pomegranate is definitely a great addition to your diet.

If time permits and if you feel like trying something different then go for the whole fruit version. If that’s the case then you’re going to have to know how to eat the fruit version. But the juice version of pomegranate is just as beneficial.

The big issue I have is that most POM juice is flash pasteurized and it’s usually found in a clear container. Both these factors result in some of the nutrients getting lost along the way. So who knows how much of the pomegranate juice health benefits you’re getting by the time you drink it.

But the amount benefits you’ll be getting definitely outweighs the drawbacks so for the most part you’re good to go in adding pomegranate juice to your diet.

The juice is available in many supermarkets so be sure to read the label to make sure you’re getting a quality product. Make sure it’s 100% pure juice, or 100% pure juice from concentrate at the very least. Also make sure that no sugars are added.

Another thing to look for is there should be a little bit of this thick, cloudy stuff at the bottom of the container. This is a good thing so just shake it up and you’ll be good to go.

Antioxidants Detective: Uncovering the Myth and Truth about antioxidants, health and nutrition