Monday, April 26, 2010

Tea? Yes, please!

I just read a study about green tea that got me all excited!

We all know that green tea is super good for you. It's full of polyphenols and antioxidants, and study after study suggests that it's a possibly a good cancer preventative.

In a Purdue University study (from 2009), they found that when ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and sugar were added to a cup of brewed green tea, it increased the absorbability of catechins (a class of polyphenols that are antioxidants thought to lower your risk of stroke, heart attack, cancer, diabetes...) into the bloodstream almost three-fold!

This got me really excited because it meant that I can make green tea even better for me just by adding a slice of lemon and a tad bit of sugar (stevia and other sweeteners will work just as well as the table sugar used in the study). How awesome is that?

However, not all teas are treated equally.

Why should I buy organic green tea?

We all know what organic means. It means the food in question has been grown without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Plants are like sponges, some more than others. When you eat something that's been processed/grown with chemicals, those chemicals are passed on to you. Most of the time it's in minute amounts, but over time it can be enough to compromise your health.

Many pesticides that were found to be exceptionally harmful to human health have been banned by the United States. For example, DDT. DDT is an organophosphate that has not been used in the United States since the 1970s, but just because something is banned here doesn't mean it's banned somewhere else. Green tea is grown in Asia, an area where DDT use is still legal (and still widely manufactured).

A scary thing has happened here. Suddenly, our health drink has become a poison (just google DDT and green tea if you're curious).

What can we do about it?

For starters, be sure to buy tea that is labeled and certified organic. These teas have more rigorous controls set on them and are less likely to become contaminated. Not just when they're growing, but during the manufacturing process as well.

Secondly, it's best to buy teas that come from a single source. Many teas on the market are "blends". These blends combine teas from multiple sources in order to save money. They can have multiple countries of origin and have a higher chance of being contaminated. Not only that, blended teas are usually not farmed using sustainable or fair-trade practices.

Don't think I'm trying to scare you!

Green tea is a wonderful health drink, a gift from God, and as long as you buy organic green tea you can be sure that the chemical impact on your body, and the environment, is minimal. Although DDT was only found in 2 out of 10 brands in the study (that's a 1 in 5 chance, now), it's still quite alarming. You wouldn't have bought that tea if you knew there was DDT in it, now would you?

So remember, for Earth's sake AND your health, you have another reason to go organic!

Also, in order to reap the most health benefits from your tea, be sure to steep it for at least 3 minutes... and serve it with some lemon and sugar!

And if it tastes like grass, you're drinking the wrong tea!

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