Why is Tea the Healthiest Beverage in the World? Health Benefits of Loose Leaf Teas

After long years of research western medicine discovered what eastern cultures knew for centuries – Tea is the healthiest beverage. There is nothing more satisfying for tea lovers, than to know that experts are supporting our believes.

Multiple publications of the U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information show that green tea has endless health benefits. The below list outlining health benefits of regular green tea drinking is based on range of studies that research health properties of green tea.

Green tea, when drunk regularly:

1. has fat-burning properties
Drinking green tea regularly promotes weight loss, especially when combined with increased physical activity and a healthy diet.
2. regulates blood glucose level in blood stream
3. lowers cholesterol level
It is proven that green tea lowers total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels and improves the ratio of HDL cholesterol to LDL cholesterol.
4. enhances mental performance

One of the important health benefits of regular green tea drinking is improved memory and learning ability.
5. provides protection against coronary artery disease

Japanese studies confirm that the more green tea people consume the less likely they are to have coronary artery disease.
6. reduces inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract
Green tea was found to reduce inflammation by activating intracellular antioxidants.
7. improves bone mineral density
8. provides protection against cancer
As a rich source of polyphenols EGCG, green tea protects against cancer (particularly colon, lung and skin cancers)
9. protects the skin against the adverse effects of ultraviolet radiation, such as UV-induced sunburn, UV-induced immunosuppression and photoaging.
References: publications of the National Center of Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Green tea becomes more and more popular in western cultures. Experts believe that drinking minimum 2 cups of green teas everyday can help you achieve the health benefits outlined above. Eastern philosophers add that meditation over a cup of tea brings happiness and longevity. One is certain – drinking tea follows tested, traditional and natural approach to health and is far less risky than trying all the novelties of today’s medicine.

But what exactly green tea is?

Green tea is the variety which keeps the original colour of the tea. Green Tea is believed to have the most medicinal values. It contains least caffeine of all Chinese tea classes. Since the leaves are not fermented, the taste is pleasantly fresh. Green teas present a broad range of flavour, from sweet and nutty to fruity and floral. The most famous teas in this groups are: Longjing tea of Zhejiang Province, Maofeng of Huangshan Mountain in Anhui Province and Biluochun produced in Jiangsu.

The health benefits of green tea are seemingly endless. It is a rich source of antioxidants – called polyphenols – which benefit health in many ways. Studies across the globe proved that Chinese Green Tea helps prevent cancer, aids in digestion, improves weight control and artery health. The ability of green tea to prevent cancer is so well established that new studies are testing green tea as potential cancer therapy.

Researchers have shown that green tea blocks the formation of certain tumours. Green tea also helps in reducing anxiety, while keeping highly alert state of mind, thanks to its high L-Theanine level. It supports metabolism and lowers blood sugar levels. Green tea is rich in catechins that effectively kill almost every kind of bacteria which cause food poisoning. It also inactivates the toxins that are produced by those bacteria. At the same time, it enhances the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract.
Although green tea seems to be the variety most popular in scientific research, other tea sorts also deserve our attention.

Black tea is known in China as “red tea” (hong cha) in reference to the colour of the infused liquid or to the red edges of the oxidized leaves. This category of tea is fermented before baking. Black teas are generally soft in flavour. The most famous teas in this groups are: Qihong of Anhui, Dianhong of Yunnan, Suhong of Jiangsu, Chuanhong of Sichuan and Huhong of Hunan.

Black tea helps to lower cholesterol and is good for the heart. Drinking black tea helps to prevent deadly clogging of arteries and reverses poor arterial functioning that can trigger heart attacks and strokes. Tea has long been tied to lower risk of stomach malfunctions, colon and breast cancer. Laboratory studies revealed that black tea may even stop cancer growth. Rutgers University researchers showed that a black tea compound called TF-2 caused colorectal cancer cells to “commit suicide” while normal cells were unaffected. Black tea can neutralize germs, including some that cause diarrhoea, pneumonia, cystitis and skin infections.

Pu-Erh (also written Puer, Pu-Er, Puerh) is a very special and unique style of tea. This type of post-fermented tea is processed using only sun-dried large-leaf tea leaves from certain areas. The best quality Pu-erh comes from the Yunnan province in South-Western China, including Xishuangbanna area, Simao and Pu-Er county.

Chinese Pu-erh Tea is the greatest tea mystery, famous for its health giving benefits, very low caffeine levels and rich, unique and comforting flavour. The secret resides in the aging process. Pu-erh is considered a special delicacy and an indispensable part of daily health care. Pu-Er tea is very good for digestive system (helps reduce body weight by increasing the metabolism), reduces cholesterol level in the blood stream, lowers blood alcohol after drinking, prevents dysentery, and stimulates secretions from the spleen and other organs.

Wulong (Oolong) tea represents a variety half way between green and black teas. It is prepared by allowing picked tea leaves to partially ferment before frying. Oolong is a full-bodied tea with a unique and highly enjoyable sweet-flowery character. It is a specialty of the provinces on China’s southeast coast: Fujian, Guangdong and Taiwan. Finest varieties are still handmade following the traditional manufacturing process.

Oolong tea enhances the function of fat metabolism, controlling obesity and even contributing to slimming. Oolong Tea may promote healthier and stronger bones, protecting people from such diseases as osteoporosis. As other tea varieties, Oolong can fight against tooth decay and can help prevent heart ailments.

White tea is the least processed of all the tea categories. It is merely withered and dried by steaming. White tea gets its designation from the fine, silvery white hairs found in the unopened buds of the camellia sinensis plant. White tea leaves have a striking appearance. They usually have a light silver colour. White teas are the rarest in the world, produced on a very limited scale in China. Traditionally plucked only at daybreak in four provinces, white tea is delicate and subtle treat for quiet moments. These teas are characterized by an extraordinary fresh fragrance that is both subtle and sweet. The aroma is delightfully gentle with a mellow taste. Well-known varieties include “Silver Needle” and “White Peony”.

White teas are greater source of antioxidants than any other teas. They can lower blood pressure and improve the function of the arteries. They promote strong bones. White Tea helps in protecting the skin from damage and may even reverse some of the damage caused by free radicals. It has great anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial effects. This group of tea is even more effective than green tea in killing germs. White tea extracts are used in many kinds of tooth-pastes to enhance their anti-bacterial effects. White Tea may reduce blood sugar and help alleviate the symptoms of diabetes.

Herbal teas (also known as a tisane or herbal infusion) contain just herbs or combine herbs with regular tea leaves. Herbal teas are made using scientific technology based on ancient prescriptions by Chinese medicine masters. They have already won many faithful customers around the world due to their reliable qualities and effective function.
When infusing a teaspoon of herbs such as mint, tulsi, ginger, chamomile, jasmine (and many others), their medicinal properties seep into the water giving drinkers the desired effect. Depending on herbs used, it may be laxative, curative, refreshing, sedative or antacid in nature.

Blends It is possible to combine the positive characters of different teas by blending. Tea traders blend teas of different crops or even origins to maintain flavour, aroma, character and price of tea over longer periods of time. English Breakfast is one of the most recognized blends available on the market.

Whichever tea variety is your favourite, remember that it is important to choose only the fresh, good quality tea. Loose leaf tea, containing whole leaves and buds seems to be more effective than tea bags containing fanning of bigger, less fresh leaves.

And remember – tea is there to enjoy it! Enjoy it first ad treat health benefits as a side effect.

Health Shop For You

People all over the world are becoming very conscious of their health. They all are trying their best to look after their health by exercising properly and keeping a check on their diet. As health has become such a major concern for all of us, there has suddenly been a growth in the production of health products. There are all varieties of items available for you to take advantage of. These items will be beneficial for you in the long run.

Health and nutrition have become everyone’s priority. There are many types of diet supplements that help in maintaining your good health. The need of buying health products has grown so much that now you will find specialised health shops. These types of shops are being developed as a large showroom of health products. Generally in these shops you will find a categorised list of products with detailed brochure information about each of the products, and ratings and testimonials from users. These products generally come with appropriate manufacturers warranty and a replacement policy. These shops offer very reasonable prices and the delivery is prompt.

Other types of health related products are also available in this type of shops, like the appliances, support devices, furniture and exercise equipment, etc. If you become a regular customer of any one of this type of shop, then you can enjoy many other advantages like discount on health supplements, you can also avail the facility of free trials, free product upgrades and many other facilities.

You can also find information about women’s health, men’s health, and health care for children or for elderly people. There is information about various health food found in these shops. Many of the nutritional supplements are found at wholesale prices in these shops. They offer exclusive varieties of vitamins, supplements, magnetic therapy, and health products for children, etc.

A variety of beauty products are also available in this type of shop. It is a good idea to shop in a store where you can get every health product you can think of under one roof. You get the best quality products, at a reasonable price. You save money by buying bulk products from the shop and get to compare all the products at one place only.

You will find lots of natural alternative treatments for Arthritis, Hormone Replacement, Natural Sleep Remedies, Vitamin and Minerals, books on Life-Style, Recipes for “Good Health” etc. in these types of shops.

There are many Vitamins, Minerals, and Antioxidants that are needed by your body and if you provide all the supplements to your body that it needs, and live a healthy active lifestyle, your body will start to repair itself, and all your ailments will disappear. Next time that you visit any health shop you will be surprised to find the wonderful health foods and health products that they have to offer. There is a huge variety of these products on the market today. All the products will make you have a healthy lifestyle and fight exhaustion and the benefits will surprise you. So include health products in your life for a better quality of life.

Coffee & Chocolate – The Health Facts You Need To Know

“Friends or Foes”

Chocolate & Coffee…Arguably, two of modern society’s more controversial of substances. For some, an indulgence, for others a daily necessity or “fix”, but, no matter what the context, there can be no doubt that the popularity of these substances is showing no sign of slowing, and it is for this reason that they warrant closer inspection…to look beyond mere “taste” and social association…and to understand the potential health implications of these two substances.

So, are coffee and chocolate good for us, or not?

Perhaps more importantly; if chocolate and coffee do provide health risks, what are they? And is there a way we can consume them without the associated potential risks to our health.

To find the answers, let’s study each separately:

1. Investigating Chocolate:

Chocolate is currently enjoying renewed popularity amongst health professionals, many of whom now believe that chocolate – particularly the dark or bitter variety – in small amounts, may possess health-giving properties – i.e. antioxidants called polyphenols – that are believed to help reduce free-radical damage in the body.

In 2001, Pennsylvania State University published a study conducted on 23 men and women in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, that showed how dark chocolate helped to reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (the so-called “bad cholesterol”) by 8%, and similarly increased HDL cholesterol levels (the “good” cholesterol) by 4%.

But, to fully understand what makes chocolate healthy or unhealthy, we need to look further:

The key factors that affect chocolate’s impact on health are:

1) The type of fat present in the chocolate

2) Whether it is a Dark or Milk variety

3) The sugar content

4) The percentage of cocoa

Let’s review each aspect:

1) The type of fat that has been used

All chocolate basically has the same fat content – i.e. approx 30-35%. However, the type of fat that is used can make a significant difference to one’s health.

Good quality chocolate – be it milk or dark chocolate, unlike cheaper chocolate, derives it fat from Cocoa Butter. Cheaper varieties use hydrogenated vegetable fats – better known as trans fats. Trans fats, which are a cheaper source of fat, are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oils (i.e. margarine) and are usually added to foods to increase shelf life (most commercial cookies, muffins, cakes, chocolates, chips and other snacks foods usually contain trans fats). Importantly, trans fats raise LDL levels which can lead to an increase in cardiovascular disease.

Therefore, no matter if it is a Milk or Dark variety, from a cholesterol perspective, it is always better to eat a good quality chocolate instead of cheaper counter varieties.

2) Dark Vs Milk

Many people now generally accept that Dark chocolate is healthier than Milk chocolate, thinking that the only reason is because darker varieties contain less sugar.

Although this is a valid reason, the primary reason is that dark chocolate does not contain any milk fat. Dark chocolate contains a fatty acid known as “Stearic Acid”, which is a saturated fat that does not significantly increase serum cholesterol levels. Milk chocolate, contains milk fat, that contains a fatty acid known as “Palmitic Acid” – a saturated fatty acid that does increase serum cholesterol levels.

Stearic Acid does contain some Palmitic Acid, which is why it is also not wise to eat too much of any form of chocolate.

3) The Sugar Content

Almost all chocolate contains sugar, however, milk chocolate varieties usually contain relatively higher amounts of sugar compared to darker varieties – and hence, as they are not bitter, are usually more popular than darker varieties. The relatively higher sugar content of milk chocolate can stimulate cravings, which can in turn lead to higher quantities being consumed. Given the higher proportion of Palmitic Acid present in milk chocolate, this could significantly impact on serum cholesterol levels in the body.

4) The Percentage of Cocoa

The cocoa content of most chocolates is usually proportionate to the amount of sugar and / or milk fat present.

Most dark varieties have less sugar (and no milk fat), which is why they are generally a better, and safer option in terms of overall health. Also, the antioxidant properties of chocolate are to be found in the cocoa, so darker chocolate is therefore naturally higher in antioxidants.

Most good quality chocolate should have no less than 30% cocoa for milk chocolate, and 48-50% for dark varieties.

The Verdict

Good quality dark chocolate is without doubt the healthier option when considering a chocolate treat – it contains less sugar, higher cocoa content (i.e. higher anti-oxidant levels), and no milk fat.

However, if milk chocolate is desired, always look for a variety that has a minimum of 30% cocoa, and does not include any trans fats (stated as “Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil/fat”; “Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil/fat”; “Hardened Vegetable Oil/Fat”).

2. Investigating Coffee:

Coffee, much like chocolate has almost become a category of its own. There are literally countless different blends, and varieties available – as well as numerous popular preparation methods.

Naturally, it is easy to look at the more obvious dangers of coffee – such as the various “accompaniments” used in preparation – i.e. full-fat milk, cream, sugar, flavoured syrups – all of which are now used in preparing many different coffee concoctions and combinations.

Many believe that by substituting healthier accompaniments, they can freely enjoy coffee without the associated health risks – e.g. substituting full-fat milk/cream with non-fat varieties or using artificial sweeteners instead of sugar.

There is also much debate about whether excess caffeine is detrimental to health, however, to understand why coffee may indeed be harmful, we need to examine not the coffee itself, but more importantly, how it is prepared.

The Studies

The Norwegian Trompso Study (1983) examined the effects of coffee on 7 213 women, and 7 368 men and found that the intake of up to 2 cups per day had little to no affect on total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, finding that these cholesterol levels were only positively affected with consumption of more than 2-3 cups a day.

However, further research into coffee has identified the presence of lipids called diterpenes, a “fat” present in coffee that has been shown to increase serum cholesterol levels in the body.

Importantly, these diterpenes (namely, “cafestol” and “kahweol”) are fat soluble, and are almost completely filtered out by the filter paper used in the preparation of “filtered coffee”.

It is coffee that is prepared without filter paper – i.e. Boiled (Turkish); French Press (Plunger); Espresso (Americano) – where cafestol levels are significant.

Research has shown that each 10mg of cafestol consumed per day can elevate cholesterol by 5mg/dL.

Thus, “espresso” style coffee (or “Americano” style coffee); Cappucinos (which are usually made with a shot of espresso coffee & heated milk), plunger coffee and any style of coffee that doesn’t use filter paper, can increase serum cholesterol levels in the body. The distinguished “crema” that forms on the top of an espresso or “Americano-style” coffee is in fact produced from the lipid (fat) in the coffee and is a quick way to identify which preparation method has been used in preparing the coffee (filtered coffee usually has no crema and has a pure black appearance).

See below for a comparison of diterpene levels in various coffee preparations:

Boiled Unfiltered Coffee – 2.8 mg/Cup
Plunger (Metal Screener/French press) – 3.5 mg/Cup
Turkish Coffee – 3.9 mg/Cup
Espresso – 1.5 mg/Cup

Therefore, 5 cups of espresso per day, could increase serum cholesterol levels by 4 mg/dL, and 5 cups of plunger (or French press) styled coffee could elevate serum cholesterol levels by 8-10 mg/dL.

By comparison, diterpene levels in drip filtered coffee were negligible.

Interestingly, as a nation, Finland switched their coffee from boiled, to filtered, and over a 20 years period experienced a significant drop in cardiovascular mortality over the same period.

The Verdict

Based on the various studies, from a health perspective, it is probably best to try to consume no more than 2-3 cups of any type of coffee a day (including cappuccino and other “gourmet” coffees) – and also, to ensure that where possible, that filtered coffee (filtered with filter paper) is chosen as opposed to espresso-style, plunger (French press) or boiled coffee.

When making espresso style or plunger style coffee at home, it is a good option to first strain the prepared coffee through filter paper before drinking, to capture most of the harmful diterpenes.

Naturally, when having a “white” coffee, always aim for non-fat milk as opposed to full fat or cream, and also keep added sugar to a minimum.