Loose Leaf Tea: The Oldest Health Food

by Elena Popec 3. July 2012 10:56

Tea, which comes from the plant Camellia sinensis, is well known around the world for its health benefits.  Although no one knows for sure how it was first discovered (one tale asserts that wayward leaves were carried by wind into the Emperor’s cup of hot water), there are records of tea being consumed in Asia as early as the 10th century BC.  Even then, it appears that tea was highly valued for its medicinal properties.  Early European explorers, interested in this new beverage, quickly spread tea cultivation west.  By the late 19th century, tea had become an important daily ritual across Britain and Ireland.  It spread with European immigrants to America, and its popularity around the world continues.  Today, peoples all over the globe have put their own unique stamp on tea, and it remains an important part of many cultures. 

Modern science proves that the ancient belief was right; tea does, indeed, pack a healthy punch.  Tea leaves contain over 700 compounds that contribute to and support a healthy body.  With cancer of all kinds running rampant and no cure, many people have turned to a more healthy and natural lifestyle as a form of defense against the devastating disease.  Tea, particularly green tea, contains a number of known anti-oxidants, which have proven to help protect against many cancers (including breast, prostate, skin, and lung cancer).  Several types of teas aid in the prevention of other chronic diseases, too.  Because it can help to moderate blood sugar, regular tea consumption can help protect against type 2 diabetes.  Green tea can also help lower cholesterol, which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. 

The abundance of vitamins and amino acids found in tea are essential in maintaining good health.  It can help boost your immune system and improve intestinal microflora (crucial for proper nutrient absorption, metabolic function, preventing conditions like IBS, and repressing microbial growth).  Catechins, a flavanol found in tea, provide anti-inflammatory properties, and can help to suppress uncomfortable sensations like pain and nausea.  Another powerful compound in tea, L-theanine, has been shown to encourage a calm yet alert mental state in the human mind. 

Perhaps the greatest concern, at least for many Americans, is maintaining a healthy weight.  Dozens of fad diets come and go.  Some are effective for a short time, some are ineffective, and some are even proven to be unsafe.  One safe, effective, reliable weight loss tool is tasty, convenient, and inexpensive:  green tea.  Numerous studies have shown that regular consumption of green tea stimulates fat oxidation.  Additionally, tea is an almost calorie-free way to indulge in warm, rich flavor without compromising your diet.  While green tea won’t miraculously take off those extra pounds, it will certainly contribute to your healthy diet.  With its ability to help you maintain a more fit body, not to mention its delicious flavor, a few regular doses of this ancient Asian medicinal wonder is the natural addition to a healthful lifestyle.

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