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Tea Time(NewsBite)

Issue November/December 1998

Tea time may have a new meaning. New studies provide further evidence that tea may have a protective role in the fight against several types of cancer and may possess many disease-fighting qualities. At the Second International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Human Health, held on September 15, 1998 at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, leading international researchers presented the latest data on the role of tea in disease prevention. The symposium was sponsored by the American Health Foundation, the American Cancer Society, the Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association, and the Tea Council of the U.S.A.

Tea, the second most consumed beverage in the world, has an abundance of flavonoids. Researchers believe flavonoids are responsible for tea's health benefits. Some of these benefits include its protective role in reducing risk for some cancers (oral, digestive, lung and colorectal), heart disease and stroke. The flavonoids act as antioxidants, neutralizing free radicals that can harm cells and potentially contribute to these diseases.

At the September symposium, Ron Prior, Ph.D., USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, presented research on the antioxidant capacity of tea. His research showed that the antioxidant activity in dry tea exceeds that of more than 22 fruits and vegetables. When a black tea bag was placed in a cup of boiling water, Prior's team discovered that the antioxidants moved rapidly into the water indicating that drinking just one cup of tea could make a significant contribution to one's total daily antioxidant intake. It is important to note that brewing methods, such as steeping longer, may impact the final antioxidant level in the tea.

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