Black Tea & Green Tea Health Benefits
The use of tea as a beverage originated in China more than 5,000 years ago. Today, tea is the most commonly consumed beverage in the world and is enjoyed by people in almost every nation. The distinctive taste and aroma of tea arise from a unique and complex combination of compounds which are naturally present in tea. In recent years there has been an increased interest in the potential health benefits of tea consumption. Current evidence indicates that tea can clearly play a role in a healthy lifestyle — and new research suggests that tea consumption may also have the potential to reduce the risk of certain chronic disease conditions.
Research suggests that compounds naturally present in tea may lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar and destroy tooth decaying causing bacteria. Furthermore, the antioxidants that are present in high concentrations in tea may give it the potential to inhibit the development of cardiovascular diseases and cancers. While most scientists have focused on health benefits of green tea, research shows that black tea may be equally beneficial in disease prevention.
Green tea and black tea health benefits
There are three main types of tea: green, black and oolong. All three types come from the tea plants, Camilla Sinensis, but they are processed differently. Green tea is produced when the tea leaves are fired (steamed and dried) immediately after picking. Firing inactivates enzymes present in the tea leaf and stops the natural optimization process that takes place after picking. In the production of black tea, tea leaves are allowed to oxidize before firing resulting in a darkening of leaf color and a change in aroma. Oolong tees are semi-oxidized, which is then a flavor that is stronger than green tea, but more delicate than black tea.
In most Western countries, black tea is consumed primarily, while green tea is preferred in Asia and parts of the Middle East.
Tea consumption and nutrient profile
Tea composition varies with climate, season, horticultural practices and varieties. The polyphenols are the most important component as they constitute approximately 36% of the dry weight of tea. Other components of fresh green tea leaf include methylxanthines (including caffeine), proteins and amino acids, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins (including the vitamins A, K, C, B carotene, and B vitamins) and minerals.
Green tea and black tea have similar chemical makeups. The primary difference between the two types why in the chemical changes that take place during their production. In black tea, the plant’s polyphenols are oxidized, while oxidization is prevented in the manufacture of green tea.
One of the most important groups of polyphenols and tea is the catechins, which are currently best known for their antioxidant activities. Recently, the physiological significance of tea catechins and their antioxidant properties have been investigated in relation to several diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. This is discussed in further detail later.
Tea polyphenols are often referred to as tannins. The term “tannins” is used for a wide range of diverse substances including tannic acids, which is present in many plants but not in tea, and theaflavins, which are only found in tea.
Black tea is all-natural and contains no additives, artificial flavoring for colors. It is calorie free (one calorie per 100 mg) and sodium free and is therefore a suitable beverage for individuals on calorie reduced or low sodium diets. Tea includes fluoride, traces of vitamins A, C, K, B carotene, and B vitamins) among them folate.
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