By Yvonne Blackwood
In my recent blog post, Does Green Tea Provide any Health Benefits? the focus was on green tea in particular. In this article I will deal with the health benefits of black and white teas, which are also brewed from the Camellia sinensis tea bush.
Black tea is more oxidized than Oolong, green, and white teas, and generally has a stronger flavour than these. So what are the other health benefits provided by black tea?
According to an article by WebMD, “Black tea is used for improving mental alertness as well as learning, memory and information processing skills. It is also used for treating headache and low blood pressure.” The article also states that black tea can be used for preventing Parkinson’s disease, and reducing the risk of stomach, colon, lung, ovarian, and breast cancer. This is interesting information since a 2006 Japanese study of green tea’s effect concluded that it did not reduced mortality due to cancer.
In an article by Cathy Wong, ND, physician, and an American College of Nutrition-certified nutrition specialist, naturopath, and journalist, she states: “While some studies indicate that regular consumption of black tea may reduce cancer risk, others report no cancer-related benefits of black tea intake…”
John Weisburger, PhD, senior researcher at the Institute for Cancer Prevention in Valhalla, N.Y., has a different take on the tea issue. He states: “Studies of humans and animals show that the antioxidants in black and green teas are highly beneficial to our health. I’ve published more than 500 papers, including a hell of a lot on tea…” He explains that all teas from the Camellia sinensis tea plant are rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant which is wonder nutrients that scavenge for cell-damaging free radicals in the body and detoxify them. Weisburger states that, “We found that both types of tea blocked DNA damage associated with tobacco and other toxic chemicals. In animal studies, tea-drinking rats have less cancer.” It seems the verdict is still out on the cancer issue.
According to an article in Clinical Nutrition (2014) in a recent study, researchers conducted a comprehensive search to identify studies which evaluated the effects of black tea on low-density lipoprotein (LDL or ‘bad’) cholesterol, and on high-density lipoprotein (HDL or ‘good’) cholesterol, and on total cholesterol. The researchers found that drinking black tea significantly lowered LDL cholesterol, but not total cholesterol or HDL cholesterol. Moreover, the lowering effect of LDL cholesterol was greater in people who had a higher heart disease risk.
The researchers concluded that drinking black tea lowers LDL cholesterol, without effecting HDL and may be beneficial for people with an increased risk for heart disease. We note, however, that only 411 participants were evaluated in the study—a small amount for a study.
Anticancer Qualities in White Tea
The Linus Pauling Institute of Oregon State University carried out studies in which researchers tested white tea to determine whether it could help prevent genetic mutations in bacteria, and colon and rectal cancer in cancer-prone rats. They concluded that white tea appears to have more potent anticancer qualities than green tea. In both of the experiments conducted, white tea was seen to have a strong protective effect, and offered much more protection than green tea. Dr. Santana-Rios told Reuters Health, “I was surprised by the potency. We were not expecting that much of a good result.”
Stronger Bones and Teeth
Numerous studies have also shown that regular white tea drinkers had greater bone density than non drinkers of white tea. White tea has small amounts of fluoride which help to keep teeth and gums healthy.
Reverses Some of the Signs of Aging
White tea has also been shown to fight free radicals from sun, stress, and poor diet, and to reverse some of the signs of aging. According to a study by Kingston University in London, it seems that white tea may be an interesting option for reducing and preventing wrinkles. The researchers tested 21 different compounds, and found that white tea contains by far the highest concentration of antioxidants.
Green and Black Teas Provide Some Similar Health Benefits
A review of studies on health benefits of green and black teas commissioned by the UK Tea Advisory Panel, found that both are equally effective. We must bear in mind that both varieties come from the same Camellia sinensis plant, but are processed slightly differently. According to the researchers, studies that have looked at these two types of teas have confirmed similar improvements in vascular function, leading to significant reductions in stroke risk. The average intake in those studies was 4 cups per day for black tea and 5 to 6 cups per day for green tea.
It seems that in spite of the many researches and studies, not all findings are conclusive; there is still more work to be done.
Do you have some positive tea results stories to share? Do provide some comments.
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