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Q: Is tea a healthy drink?

Posted October 08, 2014 in Advice Column, Greene County

A: The spotlight is on tea, with questions about whether it may be the ultimate health drink. Drinking this age-old beverage has been reported to potentially protect the body from ailments as serious as cancer.

True tea — black, green, white, and oolong — all comes from the leaves of the same plant. The chemical compounds in tea leaves serve as powerful antioxidants that help repair cell damage that can lead to serious health problems, including cancer.

Scientists have conducted tests on tea to better understand what its health benefits may be. Researchers especially want to learn if and how tea might prevent certain cancers, strengthen bones, reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke or protect the skin against sun damage that leads to skin cancer.

Healthy tips:
Make it green. How tea is processed determines whether it is classified as green, oolong or black. Green tea, produced when fresh-picked tea leaves are steamed or heated, is the least processed. As a result, it contains higher levels of antioxidants than black tea.

Herbal teas. Herbal teas come from the leaves of a variety of plants. Only green, black and oolong teas are authentic teas. Use herbal teas with caution. Some varieties, such as “dieter’s tea,” may be harmful.

Drink it dark. Faster isn’t better when it comes to health benefits. To get the maximum benefit from your tea, experts suggest steeping a tea bag in water for five minutes. This gives the antioxidants time to be released into your drink.

Information provided by Bill Monroe R. Ph., Medicap Pharmacy, 400 N. Elm St., Jefferson, 515-386-2164.

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