Polyphenols and Flavonoids: The Health Benefits of Drinking Tea

When it comes to hot beverages, tea offers many advantages over coffee. One of the most significant benefits of drinking tea is the presence of various xanthines that can stimulate the brain while also relaxing the body. Xanthines and methyl-xanthines are 62 different stimulants found only in plant foods. While caffeine is the most well-known xanthine, tea also boasts other xanthines such as theine and theobromine. These xanthines are metabolized more slowly in the human body, creating a milder and longer-lasting effect with less of a “crash” than caffeine.

Tea also contains high quantities of polyphenols, which are beneficial for fighting diseases. Polyphenols are like “pac men” that eat away at free radicals, which cause cancerous tumors to grow, allow disease to spread, and cause medical havoc in our bodies. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage cells, change DNA, and cause disease. Therefore, antioxidants like polyphenols are essential to fight cellular damage and repair cell damage. Polyphenol activity through the consumption of tea can be a vital benefit in any healthful diet, as many diseases are the result of cellular damage.

All tea, whether it has been processed (oxidized) or not, contains healthful and beneficial polyphenols. However, white and green teas may contain higher amounts as they are not oxidized. Polyphenols have been shown to improve the status of oxidative stress biomarkers (the predictors of disease risk). Scientists are still studying how these antioxidant workhorses work, but studies have shown promising evidence that polyphenols may help fight cardiovascular diseases, cancers, osteoporosis, diabetes mellitus, some neurodegenerative diseases, and enhance overall bone and dental health.

Tea also contains flavonoids, which provide antioxidant activity and tannins that contribute to the flavor of the tea. Catechins are a type of flavonoid that appears in small amounts in oxidized tea and substantial amounts in green teas and white teas. Catechins are considered potent antioxidants and hold the most promise for fighting heart disease and cancer. Catechins appear in small quantities in grapes and wine, chocolate, and all types of tea from Camellia sinensis. The abundant catechins in teas, especially green teas, are divided into seven different categories: catechin, epicatechin (EC), epigallocatechin (EGC), epicatechin gallate (ECG), gallocatechin (GC), gallocatechin gallate (GCG), and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). These are among the leading plant-derived molecules scientists are studying for their potential health benefits, from arthritis to cancer to cardiovascular disease.

In conclusion, drinking tea can offer numerous health benefits. With its high quantities of polyphenols and flavonoids, tea can fight cellular damage, repair cell damage, and contribute to better overall health. So why not trade in that cup of coffee for a delicious and healthful cup of tea?

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