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Public health nutritionist Dr Carrie Ruxton, and colleagues from Kings College London, have been looking at published studies on the health effects of tea consumption.
Surprisingly, they have found that drinking three or more cups of tea a day is as good for you as drinking plenty of water and may even have extra health benefits.
To begin with they found that the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition dispels the common belief that tea dehydrates. In fact, UK nutritionists found that Tea not only rehydrates as well as water, it can also protect against heart disease and some cancers. Furthermore, they found clear evidence that drinking three to four cups of tea a day can cut the chances of having a heart attack.
Experts believe that flavonoids are the key ‘health promoting’ ingredient found in tea, and these have been shown to help prevent cell damage within the human body.
Dr Ruxton had this to say on the matter:
‘…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...’
‘…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. Also, a cup of tea contains fluoride, which is good for the teeth…’
Claire Williamson of the British Nutrition Foundation added:
‘…studies in the laboratory have shown potential health benefits. The evidence in humans is not as strong and more studies need to be done. But there are definite potential health benefits from the polyphenols in terms of reducing the risk of diseases such as heart disease and cancers. In terms of fluid intake, we recommend 1.5-2 litres per day and that can include tea. Tea is not dehydrating. It is a healthy drink…’
Although the Tea Council had provided funding for the research, Dr Ruxton was keen to stress that the work was independent.
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