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Tea health facts – answer about antioxidants.

Introduction

With pollution, harsh UV rays and toxins rife in our environment it’s no wonder our bodies take a beating and fall victim to heart disease, strokes and cancer. Scientists believe free radicals are to blame and that antioxidants may be the answer.

What are free radicals and why are they bad?

As the cells in our bodies get older they oxidise and produce free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules, which start chain reactions that damage healthy cells causing aging and making us more susceptible to disease. Although oxidation is a natural process and happens because of regular metabolism, it is accelerated by external elements like pollution, sun damage and smoking.

What are antioxidants and why are they good?

An antioxidant is a molecule capable of slowing or preventing the oxidation of other molecules. Like scavengers, they go about mopping up or neutralising the reactive free radicals, saving you from cellular damage. However, once an antioxidant neutralises a free radical it cannot be used again, which is why it is important to re-supply your body with vitamins and other carriers of antioxidants such as fruit, vegetables and tea.

Antioxidants in tea

Tea has high levels of antioxidants called flavonoids. Although black, green and white teas all come from different parts of the same plant – Camellia Sinensis – they all contain different types and amounts of flavanoids. How the tea is grown, manufactured and prepared also determines the characteristics of the flavanoids present. Green teas contain more of the simple flavanoids called catechins, while black tea has more complex fl avanoids called theafl avins and thearubigins. The health effects of flavonoids have been intensively investigated for the last ten years. It has been found that flavonoids, particularly catechins found in green tea, may reduce the risk of major health problems. As well as eating fruit and vegetables, antioxidant intake can be topped up by drinking more tea, helping to promote overall health and wellbeing.

 
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