Food: Does tea have medicinal properties?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 16, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Metro Creative Connection

The common cold can strike at any time of year, but most people likely associate colds with winter. Colds tend to spread more easily in winter, when people typically spend more time indoors with windows closed, thus making it easier for colds and other viruses to spread.

Many people have their own remedies when it comes to treating colds, and those strategies may include a daily glass of tea. Tea has been a beloved beverage for quite some time. According to the UK Tea & Infusions Association, tea can be traced all the way back to 2737 B.C. in China. As the legend has it, Chinese Emperor Shen Nung was sitting beneath a tree when some leaves blew into some boiled drinking water his servant had been preparing for him. The emperor tried the concoction and the rest is history.

Since tea was first (accidentally) consumed, it has become an integral part of many people’s daily lives. That’s even more so when people feel a little under the weather, which might prompt some to wonder if tea actually boasts any medicinal properties or if it’s all just legend. According to Penn Medicine, various types of tea do, in fact, provide some notable health benefits.

White tea

A comparative study published in the Journal of Food Science in 2010 found that white tea might be the most effective cancer-fighting tea thanks to its robust antioxidant content. Penn Medicine also notes white tea is a source of fluoride, catechins and tannins, which means it could help to strengthen teeth and fight plaque.

Herbal tea

Harvard Medical School notes the curious distinction that herbal teas are not technically tea, as they typically lack the leaves or leaf buds of tea plants. Herbal teas are in fact made from tisanes, which are blends or infusions of dried fruits, flowers, spices or herbs. Harvard Medical School advises speaking with a physician prior to drinking herbal teas, as they can cause problems among individuals with certain medical conditions. If a doctor gives the green light for herbal teas, people may be happy to learn that they’ve been linked to a host of health benefits, including improved sleep, reduced stress and lower blood pressure, among others.

Green tea

Penn Medicine notes that green tea is high in flavonoids, which are a type of metabolite found in plants. Flavonoids have been linked to improved heart health because they can help to lower levels of bad cholesterol and reduce blood clotting. In addition, a 2014 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition concluded that green tea and its catechins can help to improve blood pressure.

Should certain teas
be avoided?

Though white tea, herbal tea, green tea and other forms of the popular beverage have been linked to various health benefits, Penn Medicine notes other types of tea are best avoided. For example, detox teas, which Penn Medicine notes are often laced with laxatives, can be harmful to overall health. Bubble teas also tend to be high in sugar and calories. In general, it’s best to discuss tea with a physician before making it a part of your daily routine.

Tea can provide a host of health benefits, and individuals are urged to discuss those properties with a physician as they look to turn over a healthier leaf.