The Healing Powers of Hot Tea

Metro Editorial
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Hot tea may taste good and be soothing on a cool day, but there are also many medical benefits to this drink.

Tea is an ancient beverage that has been enjoyed for centuries thanks to its healing benefits. Here are just some of the many ways sipping hot tea can be beneficial to you.

* Decreased risk of heart disease: A study published in the journal Circulation indicated that drinking more than two cups of tea a day decreased the risk of death from a heart attack by 44 percent. Even if you aren't having several cups a day, tea can provide marked improvement in cardiovascular health and reduction of fatal heart attacks.

* Reduction in blood pressure: Drinking merely a half-cup of Green or Oolong tea may reduce blood pressure by up to 50 percent, say researchers. Because high blood pressure could contribute to stroke, one can surmise that drinking tea may have benefits in stroke reduction as well.

* Antiseptic properties: People who rinse their mouth with tea or drink it frequently may benefit from a reduction in cavities or periodontal diseases. The bioflavonoids in tea have antiseptic and astringent properties.

A tea gargle can help prevent bad breath and kill germs in the mouth that contribute to poor oral health, according to the Hibiki-an brand of green tea. Because many viruses, such as the flu and cold, are airborne, drinking or gargling with tea may also help fight cold and flu.

* Lowers cancer risk: The polyphenols in tea are thought to be responsible for inhibiting factors that promote cancer growth in the body, according to some studies. In addition, the antioxidants in tea can help improve overall health. In one study, Green tea was shown to inhibit bladder cancer cell growth in the laboratory. Some doctors surmise that drinking tea can also fend off certain gastrointestinal cancers.

* Neurological benefits: Some research suggests that tea is valuable in the fight against neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease and dementia.

Many of the benefits of tea are produced through flavonoids -- a natural class of antioxidants that are found in many natural plant-derived foods. According to medical experts, antioxidants remove free radicals from the body -- molecules that form as side products of damage done to the body by pollution and the natural aging process.

The instability of free radicals causes them to react negatively with cells in the body and DNA. This may result in malfunctions and mutations on a cellular level. These malfunctions or mutations can increase risk of heart disease and cancer.

What many people like about drinking tea is that there are no apparent side effects. Even if tea doesn't produce all of the benefits it promises, there is still the comfort in knowing the beverage is not harmful, either.

In addition to its antioxidant properties, tea is a soothing drink that can calm a sore throat, hydrate the body, relieve symptoms of upper respiratory infections, and warm a person up when there is a nip in the air.  Add a little honey -- which has its own nutritive value -- and you may have a potent remedy in a cup.

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