Tea and Health – Antioxidants
Antioxidants May Help Neutralize Free Radicals
Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals or unstable molecules that the body produces as a reaction to varying types of stress. Free radicals caused by internal inflammation, UV exposure, first or second-hand smoke, and pollution have been linked to a whole host of stress-related diseases, common in our society today. The free radicals intermingle with other molecules contained within cells and cause oxidative damage to proteins, membranes, and genes. Antioxidants are said to help neutralize free radicals in our bodies and therefore boost overall health.
Tea and Antioxidants
Camellia sinensis (the botanical name for the tea plant) contains antioxidants in the form of tea polyphenols and catechins, including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), epigallocatechin (EGC), Thearubigins (TR), and others. Green teas contain EGCG, a catechin renowned for its effect on lowering inflammation and antioxidant activity. Black teas have EGCG in lower amounts but also contain complex polyphenols, specifically, Theaflavin and Thearubigin. Complex tea polyphenols in dark teas and black teas like Thearubigin are known to reduce blood sugar and cholesterol as well as support arterial wall health. There have been some studies that suggest these polyphenols can aid in slowing the loss of bone density.
Antioxidants in the Form of Polyphenols May Help Mitigate Age-Related or Degenerative Conditions
Polyphenols are found in a wide variety of plant foods, including tea, red wine, dark chocolate, olive oil, and berries. Researchers believe polyphenols may help mitigate age-related or degenerative conditions. However, this has not been proven conclusively, so the FDA does not permit food companies to make specific claims about tea and disease prevention. We suggest tea drinkers interested in the health benefits of tea simply enjoy a variety of tea types.
Some of the most water-soluble, easily extracted components in tea are the polyphenols (antioxidants), so extended steeping is not necessary. Brewing tea for longer periods of time will result in an overly strong, bitter cup. For the best experience, we recommend following the specific brewing recommendations listed with each tea.