As I sit here drinking a cuppa cha I can’t help but think how comforting it is just to hold the warm cup in my hands, feel the steam on my face, and the snug kiss you get when you put mug to mouth. Gosh, why do we love tea so much? And is it more than just a national addiction?
Drinking tea soaks our brain in antioxidants, potentially slowing down brain decline. Dutch researchers have found that tea keeps blood vessels that feed the brain healthy. Other research shows that tea prevents the dreaded “lipid peroxidation”, the first step towards brain cell destruction! Ouch.
Studies suggest it shields against heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and even some cancers. And now scientists are telling us it may also help treat ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)!
“We have reports going back thousands of years that drinking tea makes people feel relaxed,” says John Foxe, a professor of neuroscience and an expert on the mechanisms of attention at the City University of New York “but it also seems to make them more alert.”
The bulk of the research on tea until now has focused on its antioxidant content; the flavonols, catechins, and lignans that appear to arm the body against disease. “We know that the more tea one consumes, the stronger the cardiovascular protection will be,” says Lenore Arab, at the University of California. By inhibiting damage to DNA the antioxidants may also slow tumor growth.”
But now neuroscientists are weighing in with evidence that components in the leaves of the Camelia Sinensis plant may work wonders in the brain too.
The amino acid theanine, which is found in green, black, and oolong teas, causes a decrease in the brain’s alpha rhythms when people perform complex attention tasks, causing them to pay closer attention.
Other brain studies are still in the very early stages but offer hope that tea might battle degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s too. In mice, tea’s main antioxidant shows an ability to curb brain cell death and encourage neurons to repair themselves.
However, it seems commercial bottled teas or powdered tea mixes have no benefit whatsoever. Tea must come from real tea leaves or bags, preferably unbleached. Hot or cold, the top teas for your brain are black, green, and oolong. No sugar, and no milk, thanks!