Leading nutrition scientists from around the world convened at the US Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC recently to present the latest research supporting the role of tea in promoting good health – and so far it’s looking pretty good.
Tea is the second-most consumed beverage in the world (after water, naturally), and interest in its potential health benefits appears to have grown exponentially; in the past five years, there have been more than 5 600 scientific studies on tea, forming a substantial body of research on this ubiquitous beverage.
The findings suggest that green tea and caffeine may trigger energy expenditure, which in turn promotes weight loss. Another study illustrates how tea may help counter the adverse effects of high-fat foods on blood vessels, which could possibly reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. Note the use of the word “may”; whereas the results are encouraging, it remains a work in progress.
Says Professor Jeffrey Blumberg of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy: “There is now an overwhelming body of research from around the world indicating that drinking tea can enhance human health. The many bioactive compounds in tea appear to impact virtually every cell in the body to help improve health outcomes, which is why the consensus emerging from this symposium is that drinking at least a cup of green, black, white or oolong tea a day can contribute significantly to the promotion of public health.”
New research presented by Dr Claudio Ferri of the University L’Aquila in Italy found in 19 normotensive and 19 hypertensive individuals that black tea was able to reduce blood pressure. In the hypertensive patients, black tea appeared to counteract the negative effects of a high-fat meal on blood pressure and arterial blood flow.
Consuming black tea improved attention and self-reported alertness in a human study conducted by Unilever R&D in the Netherlands. In this placebo-controlled study, designed to measure attention, task performance and alertness, subjects drinking tea were more accurate on an attention task and also felt more alert than subjects drinking a placebo. Two other studies provide a broader perspective on tea’s effects on psychological well-being, showing benefits for tiredness and self-reported work performance as well as mood and creative problem-solving.
• Full disclosure: This information (as well as the accompanying graphic) was issued by the Tea Council of the USA, a non-profit association formed in 1950 as a joint partnership between tea packers, importers and allied industries within the United States, and the major tea-producing countries.
Tea research by numbers: Results Published within Past Five Years
Only 1 cup of black tea per day may improve blood vessel function, lower blood pressure and reduce the incidence of stroke, heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases by 10%.
Drinking tea may help mitigate the negative effects on high-fat meals on blood vessel function.
Drinking several cups of green tea daily may help burn 100 calories a day.
Drinking green tea along with a weight bearing exercise like Thai Chi are an effective way to improve muscle strength, reduce inflammation and improve low bone mass, which may help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures, especially among older Americans.
Tea has anti-cancer properties: Men who drank more than 1.5 cups of green tea per day had a 70% lower colon cancer risk.
Just one cup of tea may boost one’s ability to solve difficult language/mathematical problems.
Drinking two cups of black tea may help raise one’s alertness and attention span.
Two cups of black tea per day have been shown to enhance work performance, reduce tiredness and improve clarity and energy.
Black tea may also help to improve cognitive functioning in particular, attention.