Monday, July 14, 2008

One Drink Is Better for You Than Water

If you want to be healthy, stay hydrated during the day by drinking lots of water. But don't stop there. You should also drink three or more cups of tea every day, according to researchers from King's College London, who have dispelled the urban myth that tea dehydrates the body.

In fact, tea may be even better for us than water since it offers extra health benefits, such as protecting against heart disease and possibly some kinds of cancer, reports the BBC News.

Flavonoids, a mixture of polyphenol antioxidants that are found in many foods and plants, are the protective ingredient in tea that promotes good health. Flavonoids have also been shown to help prevent cell damage. "Drinking tea is actually better for you than drinking water. Water is essentially replacing fluid," lead study author and public health nutritionist Dr. Carrie Ruxton told the BBC. "Tea replaces fluids and contains antioxidants so its got two things going for it."

In this study, the King's College team examined published research on the health effects of tea consumption and found clear evidence that three to four cups of tea a day will slash the risk of a heart attack. Tea will also protect against tooth plaque and potentially tooth decay, thanks to fluoridated water. The effect on cancer prevention is less clear, but there seems to be some protection for certain types of cancer.

The conventional wisdom has long held that tea dehydrates the body. Ruxton says it's just not true. "Studies on caffeine have found very high doses dehydrate, and everyone assumes that caffeine-containing beverages dehydrate," she explained to the BBC. "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. Also, a cup of tea contains fluoride, which is good for the teeth."

The only word of caution: If you're at risk for anemia, you should avoid drinking tea since it can impair the body's ability to absorb iron from food.

The study findings were published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

--From the Editors at Netscape



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