If you are a tea connoisseur, you’d be delighted to know that it’s the second most popular drink in the world after water.And thanks to various beneficial components like theaflavins, thearubigins, catechins, and flavonols found in black tea, it’s absolutely worth the drink. So arm yourself with a cuppa because we have the lowdown! While green tea grabs headlines regularly when it comes to health benefits, black tea usually flies under the radar. But as you’ll see in the next sections, a cup of plain old black tea is just as great for you. So how are the two different? While both green and black tea leaves come from the plant known as Camellia sinensis, they are processed differently and have different chemical compositions as a result. Green tea undergoes practically no fermentation while black tea is fermented. The process of fermentation is responsible for the dark color and bitter taste of black tea. While the total number of flavonoids in green tea and black tea stay comparable, the nature of the flavonoids undergo some changes during this process.
Essentially, some catechins are condensed or oxidized to theaflavins during fermentation, so when you compare the two, black tea has about 99 times higher content of theaflavins and 45 times higher content of thearubigins (both tannins) than green tea. Green tea, on the other hand, has 3.5 times higher content of catechins than black tea. And thanks to this chemical composition, a cup of black tea holds out the following benefits for your health and well-being.
Polyphenols like theaflavins, thearubigins, and catechins in black tea give it potent antioxidant properties, helping fight the damaging effects of free radicals. While free radicals are naturally made in your body during the process of converting food to energy, certain other factors can increase their numbers, making it a challenge for the body to neutralize these efficiently. Factors like environmental pollution, high intake of processed and refined foods and alcohol, smoking, and sun overexposure can all increase the presence of free radicals in your body. These, in turn, cause oxidative damage to your cells, not only contributing to aging but playing a role in diseases ranging from cancer and diabetes to heart disease. That cup of black tea you chug down translates to a shot of protective and anti-aging antioxidants that can fight the damaging effects of free radicals and bolster your overall health.
High cholesterol levels can mean an increased risk of atherosclerosis and even heart problems. If you are struggling to keep your cholesterol under control, your daily cup of tea can chip in and help. One study looked at mildly hypercholesterolemic people who had 5 servings of black tea a day for a period of 3 weeks. Drinking black tea helped reduce LDL cholesterol by 11.1% and total cholesterol levels by 6.5%. Regular consumption of tea may also help inhibit the oxidation of LDL and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. Tea catechins, specifically, gallate esters, are thought to counter cholesterol disorders by limiting the absorption of cholesterol in your intestine.
High blood pressure or hypertension contributes to a range of serious medical conditions such as chronic kidney disease, heart failure, heart attack, and stroke. Fortunately, positive lifestyle habits such as eating a low-salt diet, keeping to a healthy weight, and getting enough physical exercise can go a long way in managing your blood pressure. Add a plain old cup of black tea to this regimen if you are at risk of hypertension.According to a study, regularly having 3 cups of black tea in a day for 6 months significantly decreased both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in subjects. Thanks to the flavonoids in them, tea may impact blood pressure by improving endothelial function, that is, the functioning of the cells which line your blood vessels and heart. Another possible mechanism relates to its ability to burn visceral fat, which in turn helps control your blood pressure.According to the researchers, when applied to a general population, the kind of improvement seen in the study would translate to a 10% reduction in the risk of hypertension and a 7–10% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
If you are trying to lose weight, black tea could be your secret ally. One animal study found that it changed the composition of bacteria present in the intestine, increasing the percentage of beneficial bacteria associated with lean body fat and reducing the bacteria associated with obesity. So while it’s still important to pay attention to diet and exercise regularly to lose those extra pounds, black tea can provide an extra boost to your energy metabolism from within.
Yes, your cup of tea can help keep your teeth healthy too! Research shows that components in tea can inhibit cavity-causing bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus. They also suppress the activity of the enzyme amylase which breaks down food starches into low molecular weight sugars and plays an important role in the development of dental cavities. Moreover, tea contains fluoride which helps to keep tooth enamel strong.
We’re constantly exposed to attacks from harmful germs that can cause a range of illnesses. Fortunately, our immune system is usually successful in mounting a defense against them and protecting us from diseases. But your immune system needs all the help it can get and that’s where black tea can step in. One study found that regularly consuming black tea for a period of 6 months positively impacted biomarkers which indicated the activation of the immune system. Compounds present in tea have also been found to act against a range of disease-causing microorganisms.
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a spate of problems, including heart disease, eye problems, kidney disease, and nerve damage. Your blood sugar is regulated by a hormone known as insulin which moves glucose into cells from your blood so that it can be broken down to release energy. In diabetics, glucose is not broken down into energy either because they have insufficient insulin or the insulin doesn’t function properly. If high blood sugar is something you are at risk of, black tea to the rescue once again!
Research indicates that compounds such as epigallocatechin gallate, epicatechin gallate, theaflavins, and other tannins present in tea improve insulin activity. No surprise then that a study found that long-term, moderate intake (1 to 2 cups a day) of tea was associated with a 70% lower risk of type 2 diabetes. However, do keep in mind that adding milk to your tea may reduce its beneficial effects as far as diabetes is concerned. One study found that adding 5 gm of 2% milk to a cup of tea reduced its insulin boosting activity by 1/3rd while adding 50 gm of milk to a cup reduced it by almost 90%. Soy milk and nondairy creamers also resulted in reduced insulin-enhancing activity.
As we’ve already seen, tea can have a positive impact on various factors such as cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and blood pressure which affect your heart health. Having black tea can also improve endothelial function in people with coronary heart disease. Flavonoids in tea may also help it function as a blood thinner. In fact, research indicates that drinking black tea is associated with a lower mortality rate in people who have survived a heart attack.
A life-threatening condition that develops when the supply of blood to a part of your brain is blocked, stroke is a medical emergency which requires immediate attention. Factors such as hypertension, obesity, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, and stress can increase your risk of having a stroke. But not surprisingly, your daily cuppa may help out here too. Research which considered the results of 9 studies found that people who drank 3 or more cups of black (or green) tea a day had a 21% lower chance of stroke than those who had less than a cup of tea a day. Again, the antioxidant properties of polyphenols in black tea may be at play here.
Tannins present in tea have a mild astringent effect. So if you’re looking for a natural toner, some leftover tea or a damp tea bag will just do the trick. It also works well on puffy eyes. When you brew yourself a cup of tea, leave some behind and soak this up with some cotton. Place this on your closed eyes for about 2–5 minutes and you’re sorted! A moist tea bag will do the trick too.
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