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8 science-backed reasons to never stop drinking tea

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Forget coffee. Or green smoothies. Or wheatgrass juice. If you want a beverage that has health-boosting benefits, look no further than the humble cuppa.

Yes, science has confirmed tea is officially good for us and here are a few reasons to get the kettle going.

1. It’s good for the heart

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A 2012 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests heart disease rates could be reduced by 10% if everyone took to drinking large amounts of tea.

Researchers believe consuming the equivalent of around eight cups of black tea a day could lead to a significant lowering of blood pressure – thanks to polyphenols, the plant chemicals that are said to have health benefits (a regular cup of black leaf tea contains up to 150mg of polyphenols).

The authors wrote: “Our study has demonstrated for the first time to our knowledge that long-term regular consumption of black tea can result in significantly lower BPs (blood pressures) in individuals with normal to high-normal range BPs.

“At a population level, the observed differences in BP would be associated with a 10% reduction in the prevalence of hypertension (high blood pressure) and a 7% to 10% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

2. It’s good for your teeth

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Drinking tea also means fewer trips to the dentist, if research from the University of Illinois College of Dentistry is anything to go by.

In a study conducted in 2009, scientists found that certain chemical compounds in black tea were able to kill cavity-causing bacteria or suppress their growth and acid production.

Black tea also affected a bacterial enzyme responsible for converting sugars into the “glue” tooth decay bugs use to adhere to teeth.

Study author Dr Christina Wu said: “It is our belief that the intake of black tea can be significant to improve the oral health of the general public. If sequenced properly between meals and normal oral hygiene, a reduction in dental caries (tooth decay) may be possible.”

3. It helps you when you’re stressed

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The invitation to “have a nice cuppa tea” might seem like unscientific advice but a 2006 study found black tea does have an effect on stress hormone levels in the body.

Researchers at University College, London said people who drank tea were able to de-stress more quickly than those who drank a fake tea substitute.

They said this is because those who had a cuppa four times a day for six weeks were found to have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood after a stressful event, compared with a control group who drank a placebo.

4. It helps heal damaged skin

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A 2006 study by scientists from California and Germany found that tea extracts helped skin damage from the cancer treatments heal faster.

The extracts helped radiation-induced skin damage heal up to 10 days earlier than would normally be expected.

The researchers believe that the results could be attributed to tea’s high levels of polyphenols – which blocks the effects of some enzymes which cancers need for growth.

5. It helps protect us against dementia

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Exercise followed by a relaxing mug of tea might also be a good tonic for the brain in old age.

In a study conducted in 2010, scientists from the University of California at Los Angeles, monitored 4,800 people aged over 65 for more than 14 years.

They found participants who drank tea regularly were between 17% and 37% less likely to suffer a reduction in mental ability than non-tea drinkers.

6. It hydrates our body – despite containing caffeine

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Yes, you’ve heard right. In a study published in 2009 in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers said drinking three or more cups of tea a day is as good for you as drinking plenty of water.

Speaking about the findings, public health nutritionist Dr Carrie Ruxton told the BBC: “Studies on caffeine have found very high doses dehydrate and everyone assumes that caffeine-containing beverages dehydrate.

“But even if you had a really, really strong cup of tea or coffee, which is quite hard to make, you would still have a net gain of fluid.”

7. It’s good for the bones

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In a study conducted in 2009, researchers in Hong Kong found that drinking green tea could potentially help preventing osteoporosis and other bone diseases.

After exposing a group of cultured bone-forming cells (known as osteoblasts) to three important green tea components — epigallocatechin (EGC), gallocatechin (GC), and gallocatechin gallate (GCG) for several days, they found that one in particular, EGC, boosted the activity of a key enzyme that promotes bone growth by up to 79%.

In addition, researchers noted that EGC boosted levels of bone mineralisation in the cells while blocking the activity of a type of cell that breaks down or weakens bones.

8. It helps fight off infection

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Find yourself saying ‘yes’ to a strong brew when you are under the weather? Well, there may be a scientific reason why a cup of tea helps you feel better.

A study from 2003 found that it helps the body to fight off infection and boost the immune system. And it’s all down to chemicals known as alkylamines – which are commonly present in tea as well as some disease-causing agents such as bacteria, cancerous cells, parasites and fungi.

Scientists say the alkylamines found in tea are relatively weak, but consuming the chemicals in small quantities could prepare the body’s immune system against these diseases by teaching the cells to remember alkylamines.

So stop everything and get the kettle going. Go on, you’ve earned it.

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