NEWS2U Health & Wellness
Living Healthy in an Unhealthy World

Friday, August 25, 2006

Eat To Live: Tea more healthy than water

United Press International

Thrilling news! Tea is as good for you as water!

Personally speaking, I couldn't be more delighted. The instruction to drink eight glasses of water a day has never seemed either appealing or practical.

That amount of water makes it uncomfortable to emulate the habits of the camel when away from home for more than an hour and to sleep through the night without interruption.

It is even less captivating when you consider that dedicated water enthusiasts will only consume it from bottles. Think about the landfills stuffed with discarded plastic.

And why would you opt to pay for bottled water when you are already obliged to write a check for the stuff that's pumped through your faucet?

Which may, indeed, be the same stuff that is filling some of those pricey bottles. Remember when, in 2004, the Coca-Cola Company had to confess that the UK version of Dasani came from the London public water mains?

But in fact the same charge could be leveled at most supermarket own-label bottled water. Or any bottled water with "purified" on the label. It will have been filtered again or treated to ultraviolet light or perhaps have been carbonated or had minerals added. But nonetheless, it's water you already own a part of.

Besides, no one ever expects medicine to taste good -- and eight glasses of water daily for health is surely medicine. Anyway, there are jug filters on the market that promise to remove whatever elements from local water supplies offend ...

Enough of that. On to the celebration.

Drinking three or more cups of tea a day is not only as good for you as drinking floods of water, it may even be better!

The secret is its flavonoids. These are polyphenol antioxidants that help prevent cell damage. They can provide protection against heart disease and some cancers. Three to four “cuppas” a day (so much more manageable than eight glasses of water) can also strengthen the bones, protect against tooth plaque and potentially against tooth decay.

Really? Well, at the very least, tea is made with water, which contains fluoride, which is good for the teeth.

All this excellent news was discovered by a group of researchers at Kings College London.

British public health nutritionist Dr Carrie Ruxton, who worked on the study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, told the BBC, "Drinking tea is actually better for you than drinking water. Water is essentially replacing fluid. Tea replaces fluids and contains antioxidants so it's got two things going for it."

To those of you who protest that tea is dehydrating, she says it's an urban myth.

"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."

Tea drinking (the classic beverage brewed from leaves, not the chilled bottled drink diluted with fruit juices is what is understood here) is most popular among the over-40s, Dr Ruxton asserted. "In older people, tea sometimes made up about 70 percent of fluid intake so it is a really important contributor."

If you're going to make tea properly, you really should use loose leaves and a teapot. The water must be boiled just to the point where tiny bubbles begin to crinkle around the edges of the kettle. The longer you boil the water, the more oxygen you lose, which flattens flavor. The teapot should have been filled with very hot water to maintain the temperature. Empty this out, and for Indian tea, dump into it one heaped teaspoon of tea leaves for each person plus one for the pot.

For the more delicate Chinese tea, omit the teaspoon for the pot. (In fact, to make Chinese tea correctly requires a far more sophisticated and delicate procedure.) Fill the pot and allow the tea to stand and infuse for several minutes before pouring. Then drink to your good health.