Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why I drink white tea

How do you start your day? Drinking a big cup of coffee, tea or yerba mate'? I usually wait to get my caffeine kick in the afternoon.

If coffee is your best friend, keep him close (I told you about a USF study that showed strong coffee lowers Alzheimer's risk) but think about incorporating another drink known for its anti-aging properties... Can you guess what it is?

White tea! Researchers from Kingston University tested the health benefits of 21 herbs and plants. While most had health benefits, they say they were surprised to see how much white tea outperformed the others.

**Here's an easy way to drink it everyday:
Brew a pot of white tea. (You can buy white tea with a hint of peach, lemon or other natural flavors. Add ice or pour it into your stainless steel water bottle and sip away all day!

According to researchers:

Professor Declan Naughton, from the School of Life Sciences at Kingston University in South West London, said the research showed white tea had anti-ageing potential and high levels of anti-oxidants which could prevent cancer and heart disease.

"We've carried out tests to identify plant extracts that protected the structural proteins of the skin, specifically elastin and collagen," he explained. "Elastin supports the body's natural elasticity which helps lungs, arteries, ligaments and skin to function. It also helps body tissue to repair when you suffer wounds and stops skin from sagging." Collagen is a protein found in connective tissues in the body and is important for skin, strength and elasticity, he added.

Results showed white tea prevented the activities of the enzymes which breakdown elastin and collagen which can lead to wrinkles that accompany ageing. These enzymes, along with oxidants, are associated with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Professor Naughton said: "These enzymes and oxidants are key components of normal body processes. However, in inflammatory conditions, suppressing the activities of these excess components has been the subject of decades of research. We were surprised to find such high activity for the white tea extracts in all five tests that were conducted."

The researchers were blown away by exactly how well the white tea had performed. "We were testing very small amounts far less than you would find in a drink," Professor Naughton, one of the country's leading specialists on inflammation, said. "The early indicators are that white tea reduces the risk of inflammation which is characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis and some cancers as well as wrinkles."

Eight of the other plants and herbs analysed also helped protect against the breakdown of both elastin and collagen. After white tea, bladderwrack performed well followed by extracts of cleavers, rose, green tea, angelica, anise and pomegranate.

**White tea does not contain as much caffeine as green tea. White tea is also steamed rather than fermented or roasted like green or black tea. It's not as processed as the other teas which may explain why it does well in studies.