Antioxidants in Tea and Their Potential Health BenefitsIntroductionTea is considered as one of the largest consumed beverages in the world. There is a very high consumption rate of tea and it is therefore crucial to understand the potential health benefits that are associated with this beverage. There are various types of tea categorized according to the way they are processed (Langley 2004, p. 185). These categories are black, green, white, and oolong teas. Green tea is made from the freshly unfermented tea leaves which are just steamed or pan fried. The minimal processing of this tea preserves most of the antioxidants making it to be the richer in the antioxidant contents than black and oolong teas.
White tea, which is made from the young leaves of the Camellia sinesis plant, undergoes minimum processing and hence it has the highest amount of antioxidants and nutritional value. Herbal teas are however not true teas as they are made from the dried leaves of such plants as mint and chamomile. Tea contains many compounds that are beneficial to the human body. Some of these compounds include theaflavins and catechins, and have antioxidant properties. The many health benefits associated with tea consumption are due to the antioxidant capabilities.
The antioxidants interact with the free radicals such as nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxides. If the free radicals are let uninterrupted they damage the DNA and cell membranes (Kraunig 2003, p. 252). The radials that are already present in human body are destroyed by the tea antioxidants through a process called electron delocalization. Even though vegetables such as spinach and broccoli are known to have high levels of antioxidants, the antioxidants in tea are believed to be in higher contents than in vegetables.
After consuming tea, the antioxidants in the plasma increase within the first thirty minutes of tea consumption and reach the peak two hours after drinking tea. Studies have shown that regular consumption of tea assists in the reduction of lipid peroxidation and also contributes in damaging the free radicals that might be present in the body. Evidence also continues to indicate the role played by antioxidants in protecting the body against some health conditions such as heart diseases, cancer, and stroke.
The systems that lead to these diseases or conditions are promoted by the presence of free radicals in the body and hence antioxidants come in handy in opposing these radicals (Nicoletta 2010, p. 36). In addition to some common antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, it has been demonstrated through research, that polypherols or plant derived antioxidants, have a lot of health benefits in human beings. Free radicals occur in the body due to some chemical reactions that happen during the normal cellular processes.
Free radicals may also be formed as a result of a body’s mechanism of responding to excess pollution that may be caused by UV sunlight or consumption of cigarettes or exposure to their smoke. In an effort to be stable, free radicals attack other molecules in the body causing cell damage and influencing the formation of more free radicals. Some scientists suggest that this kind of action is common in chronic diseases such as cancer, stroke, and Alzheimer disease among others.