The benefits of including tea in our diet

20/10/2020

The tea plant (Camellia sinensis) is popular globally for its consumption in infusions, but what benefits does it really have for human health? Academics from the Antioxidants and Functional Foods Laboratory of the Food and Development Research Center (CIAD) tell you more about it.

The world production of this plant is mainly divided into three groups: green (20%), which is obtained from bleached leaves; black (78%), achieved through oxidation of the leaves by exposing them to maceration and environmental oxygen, and oolong (2%), a semi-fermented variety.

All three varieties have high amounts of polyphenols, specifically catechins (which reach up to 42% of the weight of dry tea), substances that are found in different foods and are characterized by their antioxidant capacity; that is, they can counteract cell aging, in addition to other beneficial health effects.

The benefits of including tea in our diet are many; for example, it can stimulate the antioxidant system of our body and inhibit or promote some hormones and enzymes related to satiety, prolonging the time between meals.

In addition, it is believed that catechins contribute to the reduction of fat deposits in the body, since they exert an effect on thermogenesis, the process through which calories ingested through food are burned, having an anti-obesogenic effect.

There are studies that indicate that their consumption exerts a neuroprotective effect, and there is an increasing amount of research about their relationship to prevent diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other disorders associated with aging.

Likewise, it is attributed to a possible anti-cancer effect against some types of cancers in the early stages of their development, such as colon, stomach, pancreas, lung, and breast cancer.

Scientific evidence supports that the intake of green tea catechins has an anti-caries effect, since it prevents the proliferation of bacteria and tartar in the teeth. It is advisable to drink tea daily on an empty stomach or between meals. It is preferable to drink it without milk, since the proteins present in milk can interact with polyphenols and do not allow them to be absorbed and exercise their properties. It is also important to note that sugar should not be added, as it could have counterproductive effects on health and reduce the positive effects of the plant.

Based on the above, consuming tea in its different presentations can be an excellent way to replace sugary drinks and promote great health benefits.

Collaboration of graduate students from CIAD's Antioxidants and Functional Foods Laboratory, under the direction of Dr. Gustavo González-Aguilar.