2006-01-22

Health: Fruit Tea Health Ratings

Sales of fruit teas have risen by 50 per cent in the past two years as shoppers believe 'caffeine'-free beverages are a healthier option. But research has found green tea can help protect against 'cancer', while even black tea -- the humble cuppa -- helps guard against heart disease, but dental experts have warned that fruit teas can damage tooth enamel. So what are the health benefits, or dangers, of our daily cuppa -- be it green, black, blackcurrant or camomile? GREEN TEA Made from the leaves of the 'Camellia Sinensis' plant, which is also responsible for producing black tea. However, the green version is less processed than its counterpart. The promise: Aids weight loss, protects against 'Alzheimer's Disease' and 'cancer', and is good for digestive health. Also thought to protect against 'heart disease'. The proof: Green tea has half the 'caffeine' of black tea and research suggests it is also higher in 'anti-oxidants'. 'The University of Newcastle's' 'Medicinal Plant Research Centre' found that green tea inhibited the activity of those 'enzymes' connected with 'Alzheimer's Disease'. It has also been found to help weight loss, stimulate 'gut bacteria' that cut the risk of'gastric' infections, and protect against heart disease. Scientists at 'The University of Kansas' found that it contains 'anti-oxidants' -- cells that mop up and destroy' free radical' 'cancer' causing 'cells' in the body. Green tea is also a rare dietary source of 'Vitamin-K', which is linked with strong bones. Green Tea Health rating: 5/5 PEPPERMINT An herbal tea made from the leaves and flowering tops of the peppermint plant. The promise: Good for digestive and bowel problems and relieves colds and 'flu. Herbalists also suggest it can ease 'migraines' and relieve the constriction of the airways in 'asthma' sufferers. The proof: Studies show that peppermint can help ease the discomfort of 'Irritable Bowel Syndrome' by reducing unnatural spasms of the gut. Peppermint tea has also been shown to relieve colds and 'flu. symptoms, and helps overcome 'nausea' when sipped after an heavy meal. Peppermint Tea Health rating: 4/5 NETTLE Made from tender young nettle leaves. The promise: A traditional remedy for 'rheumatism'. Also thought to be 'anti-asthmatic' when drunk with honey. A rich source of 'iron', 'folic acid' and 'B-Vitamins'. The proof: Although concentrated extracts of nettle leaves have been shown to be 'anti-inflammatory', there is little evidence that tea is effective against 'rheumatism'. There is some evidence to suggest nettle can protect against 'allergic' reactions, but tea is unlikely to offer a strong enough concentration. Nettle Tea Health rating: 2/5 DANDELION Dried leaves of the dandelion plant are processed to create this tea. The promise: Thought to cleanse the blood and contains even higher levels of 'Vitamin-A' than carrots and spinach. Recommended by herbalists to stimulate the gall bladder. The proof: No scientific evidence. Dandelion Tea Health rating: 1/5 CAMOMILE Comes from the scented flowers and leaves of the camomile herb. The promise: Traditionally used as a remedy for digestive complaints, including diarrhoea and colic. Drunk by many to aid sleep and ease anxiety, because it contains a variety of active ingredients thought to have 'anti-inflammatory','antispasmodic' and muscle-relaxing effects. The proof: Scientists have established the calming effects of camomile tea can be attributed to 'valerianic acid' -- a 'supernutrient' present in the dried flowers from which camomile tea is made. Camomile Tea Health rating: 4/5 LIQUORICE From the root of the liquorice plant. The promise: Thought to heal gastric ulcers, sore throats, coughs, and 'gynaecological' conditions. The proof: Research has shown it is more effective than many conventional drugs at healing 'gastric ulcers' if taken on an empty stomach. Also effective in treating 'menopausal' symptoms, regulating 'menstruation' and easing 'menstrual cramps'. Licquorice Tea Health rating: 4/5 ECHINACEA From the purple flowers of the echinacea herb. The promise: Usually taken to ward off colds and 'flu., echinacea is an' immunity booster', an 'anti-inflammatory', a 'detoxifier' and a wound healer. It is also thought to combat 'urinary trac' infections and food poisoning. The proof: Studies have confirmed echinacea extract can have powerful 'anti-oxidant' effects, but there are no studies to prove it is effective when taken as a drink. Echinacea Tea Health rating: 1/5 BLACKCURRANT From the leaves and fruit of the blackcurrant bush. The promise: Blackcurrants have been hailed as a 'superfruit' because of their high levels of 'anti-oxidants', which neutralise 'cancer'-causing' free radicals'. The proof: None, and when taken as a tea could damage teeth. Blackcurrant Tea Health rating: 1/5 STRAWBERRY AND RASPBERRY The promise: Strawberries are a good 'anti-oxidant' and raspberries are very rich in 'anthocyanins', another form of 'anti-oxidant', which has a positive effect on blood vessels and skins. The proof: An Australian study found that pregnant women who took raspberry leaves had a shorter labour and a lower rate of forceps or Caesarean delivery. But acid levels mean that drinking several cups a day could damage teeth. Strawberry Tea/ Raspberry Tea Health rating: 2/5 ...AND A REAL CUPPA From the same plant as green tea. The promise: Taken without milk, the humble cuppa has no fat, starch or sugar and is 'calorie-free'. It is often cited as being good for the heart and to work against 'Alzheimer's Disease'. The proof: Several studies have shown that a high intake protects against coronary heart disease. And 'The University of Newcastle's' 'Medicinal Plant Research Centre' found black tea inhibited enzymes connected with 'Alzheimer's Disease'. However, black tea contains 'caffeine', so should be avoided by anyone who suffers from anxiety or'gastric' problems. Ordinary Tea Health rating: 4/5 'Bags of Goodness?', Charlotte Harris & Kate Maxwell, Daily Mail 09:41am, 2006-01-17

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