Polyphenols Keep Your Doctor Away

The Secret Of Health Benefits

The property known as Polyphenols which is found in tea, like other antioxidants, help protect cells from the normal, but damaging, physiological processes known as "oxidative stress." Although oxygen is vital to life, it's also incorporated into reactive substances called free radicals. These can damage the cells in our body and have been implicated in the slow chain reaction of damage leading to heart disease and cancer.

Many studies have demonstrated the anti-cancer properties of polyphenols. They can stop the damage that free radicals do to cells, neutralize enzymes that can cause tumor growth, and deactivate cancer promoters. Some researches have found polyphenols help prevent blood clotting and lower cholesterol levels. Their effect on heart diseases, or preventing heart attacks, is however, less well acknowledged.

Although it is believed milk lowers tea's anti-oxidant power because it binds to polyphenols and inactivates them, this has not yet been proven. So go ahead and add some milk if you like - you'll also increase your calcium intake.

The best teas are those brewed from loose leaves or tea bags of black, green or red tea, as they have the most antioxidant power. Allow your tea to steep three to five minutes for the maximum amount of antioxidants to be released. Iced teas can provide as much antioxidant power as hot teas. Keep them covered and refrigerated. Bottled teas often have a lower antioxidant level because they contain mostly water and sugar.

The degree of processing determines whether a tea will be green, black or red. Green teas are the least processed. They are simply steamed quickly before packaging. Black and red teas are partially dried, crushed and fermented. The length of fermentation, which causes the leaves to blacken, determines whether the tea will be red or black. Regardless of the processing method, all teas contain polyphenols. However, Herbal teas are not derived from this leaf and so do not have this particular health-promoting chemical.