Do you want to live longer? Would you like to avoid cancer? Do you like caffeine? If you’ve answered yes to these questions, then you’re in luck because we’re going to discuss tea.
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Whether you’d prefer to classify tea as an herb, supplement, food, or otherwise, it doesn’t really make a difference… this is one of the best things you can consume to improve and maintain your health.
Why is tea healthy?
So what exactly makes tea healthy you may ask? Anecdotal research would state that looking at Asia we see long life spans and low cancer rates, but that’s not scientific enough for Nursejanx.
The fact is, tea is a great antioxidant, but before we talk about antioxidants, let’s first talk about free radicals.
Tea defends against free radicals
By definition, free radicals are unstable molecules with an unpaired electron. They desperately want to unload this extra electron onto something else so they can be stable, and typically they dump these onto cell membranes. A normal cell membrane is chemically stable, but taking on extra electrons can create instability in the membrane just like it does with the free radical. Here’s an image of this process over time:
As you can see, the cell membrane is becoming withered and damaged from free radicals over time, a process called oxidative stress. Eventually, the cell membrane will cease to function properly, and if that happens, it could cause the cell to die (necrosis), or worse, cause mutations in the cell which could lead to cancer.
Tea has lots of antioxidants
A main benefit of tea and other health foods relates to their antioxidative (anti-free radical) properties. Black and green tea both contain flavins, phenols, catechins and other molecules which act as scavengers for free radicals in your body.
Recent research has shown that if these antioxidants do not directly neutralize free radicals, they still offer protection to cells and tissues by positively influencing your own body’s defenses. Here’s an excerpt from “How Do Nutritional Antioxidants Really Work”:
Studies over several decades (only recently markedly helped by conceiving the possible underlying mechanism) demonstrate that many of the so-called ‘antioxidants’ in foods and beverages provide cellular and tissue protection against oxidative damage by inducing endogenous antioxidant defenses. Thus, a variety of compounds, including polyphenols, which can act as chemical antioxidants in vitro, actually induce enzymatic systems in vivo. These enzyme-catalyzed processes in turn alter the steady-state levels of crucial regulatory and/or protective elements. What is now abundantly clear is that, rather than acting as chemical antioxidants in vivo, the chemical properties of these ‘antioxidant’ compounds generate signals for the induction of protective enzymes.¹
Green tea versus black tea
By now you realize that tea and other antioxidants can protect you from cancer and cellular damage, but you may be curious as to what kind of tea is the best.
The good news is that both green and black tea are very potent sources of antioxidants. A study comparing the total antioxidant capacity of green and black tea found that although both were very high, green tea has more antioxidative capacity than black tea.²
Reviewing health articles for green tea, there has been a strong emphasis on epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the predominant antioxidant found in green tea. Studies have shown that compared to other antioxidants, EGCG showed the most potent antiproliferative effects, and significantly induced cell cycle arrest in the G1 phase and cell apoptosis.³ This means that if a cell was attempting to grow unregulated and acting cancerous, EGCG may be able to stop that cell from growing and dividing.
For black tea lovers, you can tout the high levels of theaflavin-3 (TF3), an antioxidant that has strong activity similar to epigallocatechin gallate.²
- Tea (green and black) have high levels of antioxidants
- Green tea has a greater total antioxidative capacity than black tea
- Antioxidants reduce the negative consequences of free radicals and can fight cancer and cell damage
- Drink tea!