Inflammation, compromised immunity, increased disease risk, weight gain. These are just a few of the issues confronting us with age. While data indicates Baby Boomers spare no expense on prescription drugs, OTC remedies and a myriad of preventative therapies and treatments, the most powerful anti-aging elixir may be in your pantry. I’m talking about tea.
For thousands of years, tea has been enjoyed for its medicinal properties yet, here in America, our caffeine-driven lives are predominantly fueled by lattes, espresso, café au lait or the simple but ubiquitous cup of joe.
In the same way yoga, Pilates and spas have influenced our culture, tea is following suit. And that’s a good thing. Research shows that green tea may support heart health when combined with a diet low in fat, cholesterol and saturated fats. In a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine and conducted on men and women with moderately high cholesterol levels, those who drank tea for 12 weeks showed an 11 percent decrease in total cholesterol and a 16 percent decrease in LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
Keep in mind, the participants weren’t gulping down bottled green tea “beverages,” powdered tea mixes, green tea smoothies or bubble tea drinks. They were drinking simple, loose leaf tea.
Now, this doesn’t mean you need to find a tea emporium that sells fair trade, organic, single-estate-grown tea for 30 dollars a pound. Simple, loose leaf tea will do.
In general, loose leaf tea is higher quality than what you might find in bagged teas. That’s because loose tea include whole leaves, not crushed or broken pieces, so they retain more of their health-supportive plant chemicals and essential oils.
All you need to enjoy loose leaf tea are the tea leaves of your choice, an infuser, hot water and a mug. Be sure to steep the tea for at least three minutes to reap the most benefit, and you’ll be one step closer to health.
The science supporting tea and its cancer-fighting abilities are many and fascinating. Hundreds of studies have been published indicating teas can inhibit tumor growth and development. In fact, researchers have noted in green tea-drinking countries like Japan, breast cancer is not as common as in countries where tea isn’t regularly consumed. Other studies have shown that drinking two or more cups of tea daily may help ward off ovarian, lung and prostate cancers.
Tea scores high again, when it comes to antioxidants. A polyphenol in white, green and (in lesser amounts) black tea called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is nearly 100 times greater than vitamin C, a well-known antioxidant. That said, EGCG may markedly prevent or slow oxidative damage to cells.
When combined with caffeine, EGCG stimulates the body’s production of energy, potentially making tea an effective weapon in every dieter’s arsenal.
If you’re taking blood thinners or blood pressure medicine, talk with your doctor before starting a tea-drinking regimen; some teas may inhibit these prescription drugs. Otherwise, tea is absolutely worth exploring for both its physical and cognitive benefits.