Put the kettle on

Making a cup of tea is the British response to any stressful situation. And it may have a strong basis in science.

Several years ago researchers at University College London found that drinking tea actually made you less stressed.

The tea lowered cortisol levels. This is the hormone released when we’re stressed and which increases our blood pressure and pulse rate. Tea contains a supernutrient called theanine, which blocks the effect of nerve transmitters leading to raised stress levels, along with other bioactive compounds including one with a mild sedative effect.

So if you want to lower your stress levels drink 4 cups of tea a day.

Other research suggest that drinking 3 cups a day can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease because of the anti-oxidants it contains. These flavinoids, also exist in onions and apples but tea provides 80% of our daily intake.

Flavinoids help to reduce blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessel walls and also make it more difficult for cholesterol to attach and form the plaques that block blood flow and can break off to find their way to the brain to cause strokes. Flavinoids also reduce bad LDL cholesterol by over 10%.

Research in 2010 on almost 5,000 over-65 year olds showed that tea drinkers showed less cognitive decline over a fourteen year period and there is research that shows the positive effects of tea drinking in preventing diabetes by interfering with blood glucose activity.

Now scientists at the University of Western Australia and Unilever have discovered that drinking three cups of black tea a day lowers your blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic). However they don’t know the effect of drinking tea with milk which is strange seeing that most Brits have milk in their tea and probably influenced Australian tea-drinking traditions).


How popular is tea as a drink? Second only water across the world (so coffee still has some catching up to do)

Does tea dehyrdrate you? Research on high altitude climbers showed that tea is not a diuretic and it doesn’t dehydrate you

Is there no caffeine in tea? Tea has about half the caffeine found in coffeee but the more stewed it gets the higher the level.

But isn’t caffeine bad for you? 40-60gm of caffeine helps you to concentrate and combat fatigue so no need to stop drinking coffee.

Is green tea better for you than black tea? Green tea is prepared differently from black tea but from the same plants. Green tea has more catechins (flavonoids) which have antioxidant, antibacterial, and immune system regulating effects. Some experts suggest drinking green tea can raise your metabolism and help you burn more calories.

What about white tea?  Green tea is made from mature fresh tips whereas white tea is made from buds and young leaves. It has a higher level of catechins and a greater antibacterial effect than green tea.

SourcesThe Times 21/11/2006 and Wikipedia

The UCL research was published in Psychopharmacology and described experiments where 75 healthy non-smoking men were allowed their usual tea, coffee and caffeinated drinks for 4 weeks before the experiments. They were then subjected to a series of stressful tests including being accused of shoplifting and threatened with job loss.

Half the group were then asked to drink 4 cups a day of a tea coloured fruit drink which contained all the active constituents of a cup of black tea. The other 38 drank a tea-coloured placebo. After 6 weeks of this the stress tests were repeated. The cortisol levels of those participants drinking the fruit drinks fell more quickly and they reported feeling less stressed than the placebo drinking participants.

The research on the effects on CHD was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The Australian study comprised 95 people aged between 35 and 75 who drank either 3 cups of black tea or a placebo with the same flavour and caffeine content. The study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in January 2012


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