Most popular drink may also be healthiest
Drinking tea is better for you that drinking water. Contrary to popular belief it does not dehydrate you and is full of antioxidants. As Craggy island's Mrs Doyle would have put it: 'now, go on, will ye have a cup of tea?'
A survey of recent research on tea carried out for the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that:
- tea rehydrates as well as water
- 3-4 cups a day can cut the chances of a heart attack
- some studies suggested tea also protected against cancer, although this was less clear.
- tea can protect against tooth plaque (and therefore tooth decay)
- tea can strengthen bones
Tea include flavanoids, polyphenol antioxidants found in many foods and plants which have been shown to help prevent cell damage. Tea also contains some flouride which explains the tooth decay benefits.
Researcher Dr Carrie Ruxton, a public health nutritionist at Kings College London said: '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.'
She said told the BBC that it was an urban myth that tea is dehydrating. Caffeine can 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.'
One word of waring: tea can make it more difficult to absorb iron from food so people at risk of anaemia should avoid drinking it around mealtimes.
Dr Ruxton's team found average tea consumption was just under three cups per day. She said the increasing popularity of soft drinks meant many people were not drinking as much tea as before.
The Tea Council provided funding for the work but the EJCN is a respected journal under the Nature umbrella so you can be as sure as you can be that this made no difference to the findings.
What about cider?
The National Association of Cider Makers are now funding research in Glasgow to see if their tipple is as beneficial as eating apples which, of course, also conatain antioxidants. Watch this space.
- Image: Pauline McGlynn as Mrs Doyle in the Hat Trick/Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted.
Page created on August 28th, 2006
Page updated on December 21st, 2009