Catechins, a natural compound in tea, protect brain cells from damaging protein build-up over the years, maintaining your brain‘s cognitive capability.
In addition, the caffeine in tea, unlike that in coffee, contains the natural protein theanine, which counters the normal side effects of caffeine such as raised blood pressure, headaches and tiredness.
Researchers studied the tea-drinking habits of over 2,500 Chinese aged 55 and older and gave them memory tests.
While two-thirds of the tea-drinkers maintained their memory test scores two years later, 35 percent of non-tea-drinkers had a decline in their memory test scores, which indicates cognitive decline. I still believe that pure water should be your primary drink, but it’s becoming hard to ignore the numerous health benefits that high-quality tea has to offer.
This study is not the first to suggest that tea is good for your brain. In 2005 scientists also found that epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a catechin polyphenol and a major antioxidant in green tea, decreases production of the protein beta-amyloid, which is related to Alzheimer's and can accumulate abnormally in your brain, leading to nerve damage and memory loss.
Researchers also believe green tea may be the reason the Japanese have lower rates of dementia and Alzheimer's. One study found that the more green tea seniors drank, the better their odds of avoiding cognitive problems. And drinking just two cups a day offered the most protection.
So adding a couple of cups of tea to your day may just be a simple way to get some extra protection for your brain.
The study above noted that all types of tea seemed to provide benefits, but personally I prefer matcha green tea. Because matcha tea is actually the entire ground tea leaf, it may contain over 100 times the EGCG provided from regular brewed green tea.
Tea’s Benefits Reach Your Entire Body
It’s not just your brain that stands to benefit from high-quality tea. For centuries, catechins like those in tea have been known to:
- Neutralize the effects to your body of harmful fats and oils
- Inhibit bacteria and viruses such as HIV, hepatitis, and herpes
- Improve digestion
- Protect against oxidation in your brain and liver
- Help promote healthy gums
- Improved mental alertness
- Lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Reduced blood pressure
- Lower risk of breast, colon, lung, ovarian and prostate cancers
- Protection again type 2 diabetes
- Reduced risk of heart attack and stroke
What About the Caffeine?
Some people avoid drinking tea because of the caffeine it contains. Indeed, caffeine has been linked to many health problems, like increased blood pressure and levels of stress hormones. Still, caffeine is far less dangerous than fruit juice or soda and in small quantities should not be a problem, especially if it comes from tea.
The above study found that caffeine from tea contains a natural protein theanine, which actually counters the normal side effects of caffeine such as raised blood pressure, headaches and tiredness!
The exception here is women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Caffeine is a stimulant drug that easily passes through the placenta to the developing fetus and is also transferred through breast milk, and can have devastating effects on the baby. So pregnant and breastfeeding women should never drink caffeinated beverages.
As for tea, if you’re looking for the one with the least caffeine choose green tea. It contains about half the caffeine as coffee. Black tea typically contains slightly more caffeine than green tea.
Finally, when choosing a green tea, be aware that previous research has found high levels of fluoride present in some teas. Fluoride is a toxic substance that can have profoundly negative effects on your body. So if you consume large amounts of green tea for health benefits, you might want to invest some time in researching a brand that is quite low in fluoride.