The Health Benefits of Tea

A cup of tea eases frazzled nerves, helps your heart, and may even help fight cancer.

By Jeanie Lerche Davis
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

It's a rite of summer, setting out the sun tea jar. With all the health benefits of black tea, sun tea is even more welcome than ever. There's compelling evidence that tea reduces the risk of heart disease, and possibly even helps prevent cancer and Alzheimer's disease.

Indeed, tea is considered a superfood -- whether it's black, green, white, or oolong tea. All those tea types come from the same tea plant, Camellia sinensis. The leaves are simply processed differently. Green tea leaves are not fermented; they are withered and steamed. Black tea and oolong tea leaves undergo crushing and fermenting processes.

All teas from the Camellia plant are rich in polyphenols, antioxidants that detoxify cell-damaging free radicals in the body. Tea has about eight to 10 times the polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables, according to long-time tea researcher John Weisburger, PhD, senior researcher at the Institute for Cancer Prevention in Valhalla, N.Y.

Studies of humans, animals, and petri-dish experiments show that tea is high beneficial to our health. Research suggests that regular tea drinkers -- people who drink two cups or more a day -- have less heart disease and stroke, lower total and LDL cholesterol, and recover from heart attacks faster. There's also evidence that tea may help fight ovarian and breast cancers.