Coffee might be the staple drink of South Indians and tea might be preferred by North Indians but our unity in diversity has spread its root in all domains of life-including the passion for tasting different beverages and eating various cuisines. We have heard enough about the benefits and disadvantages associated with consumption of both these beverages-there has been a whirlwind of thoughts and research results penned down that have confused us more strongly than ever. So, are coffee and tea good for the health or not? This question still lingers within each of us. Before we have reached upon a conclusion regarding this our food experts and over-enthusiastic manufacturers have showered upon us various tea varieties that are now becoming the latest passion for tea lovers! You’ve got multiple aisles in the supermarket shelves stocked with your regular tea dust, tea leaves and various other tea varieties that use color-coded names such as white, green and black with blue tea being the latest addition to the list.
Worldwide, people have been till date enjoying the relaxing and exhilarating qualities of tea. There is no other relief than drinking a hot cup of tea on a cold winter day. Some people look forward to drinking a cup of tea more to coffee as they don’t have quite the negative perception with tea as they have with coffee due to its excess presence of caffeine. Many even wake up to the freshly brewed smell of tea and some others call it a good morning only when they have their first cup of tea! The ‘chai wala’ sets his shop at early morning hours even during freezing winter months to make his daily living in Northern parts of India and an energetic tea vendor handing over cups of tea in a crowded train is a common sight there. But now, along with normal tea there have been some who even sell green tea for the health-conscious Indians! A couple of decades back, black tea shot into fame for its lesser calories but now green might be the new black!
Tea Reigning Supremacy
Tea is gaining solid grounds worldwide and even coffee shops have started putting down elaborate tea menus to attract attention. One of the critical causes for this is the health benefits associated with it. Green and black tea have almost more than 8 times the quantity of antioxidants present in fruits and vegetables. Though coming from the same tea plant, Camellia sinensis, each of them has its own uniqueness mostly differing on the way its processed. With the weight loss craze and the race to a glowing skin marketing people have commercialised green and black tea consumption to such an extent that these are fighting for a top spot among the most-preferred food list. Each of us have our opinions on different foods and choose them depending on our requirements and taste buds. When it comes to choosing between black or green tea the judgement has mostly been made based on personal opinions and taste requirements rather than understanding the scientific process behind it. Lets explore the world of green and black tea coming to conclusions based on their pros and cons.
From plucking the leaves to boiling them in your tea pot the tea leaves become more and more darker due to oxidisation and this darkening effect is minimized for green tea. Whereas, for black tea the leaves are fermented going through oxidation process. This lack of fermentation makes green tea extremely rich in EGCG (epigallactocatechin gallate), an excellent antioxidant that’s sought after for staving off cancer, cardiovascular risk and more. The lack of oxidation also makes it richer in polyphenols.
A study by researchers showed that individuals drinking an EGCG-containing drink experienced increased brain activity, focus and attention comparatively. The study also proposed that it can nurture a relaxed state of mind (https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00398-1). Green tea also claims of weight loss but evidence of significant weight loss is not encouraging and neither does it support maintenance of weight loss that’s already been achieved. Contrary to hypes, its been proved that green tea catechins have no effects on HDL cholesterol, triglyceride levels or C-reactive proteins.
In general, all tea leaves that come from the Camellia plant brim with polyphenols, a type of antioxidant. But the EGCG in black tea is destroyed during the fermentation process making green tea without doubt the best in terms of antioxidant property compared to black tea. At the same time, black tea is rich in theaflavins, a group of antioxidants, that are unique to it. These antioxidants have the ability to protect fat cells from damage by free radicals and also support’s body’s antioxidant properties. There are even theories proposed that theaflavin might protect heart and blood vessels, help in obesity management and reduce cholesterol and glucose levels. A systemic review shows that while black tea did not reduce risk of endometrial cancer increasing green tea consumption by one cup a day reduced the relative risk by 11% (https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/06/upshot/what-the-evidence-tells-us-about-tea.html). Likewise, green tea and not black tea was linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
Trials show that green and black tea reduce overall cardiovascular risk factors such as LDL levels and blood pressure levels. But it was also observed that people who drank either varieties were different from those who did not drink but what remains a mystery is whether it’s the effect of drinking tea or something else that lowers their risk of heart disease.
Don’t rush into a hurry and choose a whole lot of green or black tea packets. Both have their own benefits. If you are looking for a caffeine boost, it is better to choose black tea but if you are sensitive to this stimulant green tea is the best pick for you. Both the varieties almost provide the same set of benefits despite green tea containing more powerful antioxidants. There is no harm in drinking 2-3 cups of any tea variety during the day but drink them in moderation. But many of the studies produce the desired effects only when we drink more than 10 cups of green/black tea daily. If you are going to heap them with spoonful of sugar during every drink then nothing can stop your body from becoming unhealthy. Green tea might be your preferred choice during afternoon breaks as it is less acidic, washes off acidic waste and also creates a detoxifying effect that gives you bright skin and strong immunity. Green tea is the second-most consumed beverage in the world only after water and we hope that we have every chance of using its properties to our advantage in the field of medicine to combat obesity, insulin resistance and memory impairment. Black tea could be the go-to beverage during morning hours as it gives you an extra dose of caffeine to make you energetic and start the day on a brighter note.
Green Tea Compounds May Protect Body & Brain: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/07/31/green-tea-compound-may-protect-body-and-brain/#3dace4f71c3b
Flavonoids: The Secret to Health Benefits of Drinking Black and Green Tea? https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/brewing-evidence-for-teas-heart-benefits
Green is the New Black: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2005/jun/07/foodanddrink.shopping
Green Tea Vs Black Tea: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/diet/green-tea-vs-black-tea/articleshow/44753623.cms
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.