The wind is blowing snow around
outside and you're sitting comfortably in your chair, sipping a
cup of hot tea, warming you from the inside out. And holding the
warm mug is a bonus for your cold fingers.
Tea was discovered in China more than 4,000 years ago and today
is one of the world's most popular drinks. But tea is more than
a steamy, comforting brew. Evidence of green tea's health-promoting
properties is becoming more wide spread, says Nicole Nisly, M.D.,
UI Health Care physician specializing in alternative medicines at
the UI Family Care Center. The Chinese have known about the medicinal
benefits of green tea since ancient times, using it to treat everything
from headaches to depression.
Western research is providing evidence supporting the health benefits
of drinking tea, especially green tea. "I recommend green tea
regularly to my patients with cancer," says Nisly. The Journal
of the National Cancer Institute has published several articles
about green tea including the results of an epidemiological study
indicating that drinking green tea reduced the risk of esophageal
cancer in Chinese men and women by nearly 60 percent.
There is also research indicating that the antioxidants in green
tea lower total cholesterol levels, as well as improve the ratio
of good (HDL) cholesterol to bad (LDL) cholesterol. Green tea is
loaded with catechin polyphenols, a type of photochemical with 100
times the antioxidant kick of vitamin C.
But beware, you'll have to swallow a lot of green tea to gain some
of the health-promoting benefits. While there are no scientific
standards set for how much green tea can be beneficial, studies
touting the success of green tea report that subjects drank between
three and six cups of tea daily. Green tea contains caffeine, but
not as much as coffee.