Toast To Your Health In 2008 With Hot Cup Of Tea

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With 2008 off to a bang, many Americans are making their best attempts at sticking to the many New Year's resolutions that we typically make -- and break -- every year.

Whether it is to eat better, get back to the gym, give up unhealthy vices, or all of the above, many of these all-too-familiar resolutions will be abandoned by February 1st, if not earlier. However, there is one resolution that can help in maintaining an overall healthier lifestyle and so much more: Drinking tea! Adding tea to a healthy diet may be one of the easiest and healthiest resolutions to start the New Year out right; and it's a great way to celebrate January's National Hot Tea Month!

New research presented this past fall at the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., associates drinking tea with maintaining a healthy body weight, reduced risk for several chronic diseases, such as heart disease and certain cancers, and also found that drinking tea may support healthy brain function, helping us to think clearly and maintain a calm, yet more alert, state of mind.

"Adding tea to a healthy diet may be one of the easiest and healthiest resolutions to start the New Year out right," said Joe Simrany, President of the Tea Council of the USA. "Given that tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water; why not fully embrace it all year round?"

Boost Your Mind in 2008 with a Cup of Tea

Start the New Year out right with a healthy "brain-boost" to help get those brainwaves flowing clearly in 2008. The results of several ongoing human trials conducted by John Foxe, Ph.D., Professor of Neuroscience, Biology and Psychology at City College of the City University of New York, have found that a substance in tea called theanine actively alters the attention networks of the brain. Theanine, an amino acid present almost exclusively in Green, Black, White and Oolong tea varieties, is known to affect the brain's neurotransmitters, and increases alpha brain-wave activity. This alpha brain rhythm is known to induce a calm, yet alert, state of mind.

This new research suggests that the effects of theanine in combination with caffeine may be even greater than with either one alone in improving attention. Theanine may work together with caffeine to help induce a relaxed state that also allows the mind to focus and concentrate better at tasks.

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Tea May Help Fight the Battle of the Bulge

It's never too early to start thinking about swimsuit season. With over two-thirds of the U.S. adult population overweight or obese, scientists are looking for medically sound ways to help consumers manage their weight. The existing scientific literature on tea, weight maintenance and metabolism supports the role of tea in weight management. In particular, some studies suggest that catechin-rich Green Tea may reduce body fat and in particular visceral fat, possibly through increased resting energy expenditure and fat oxidation.

Since Green and Black Tea can be enjoyed without added calories, tea drinkers may find that they can eliminate liquid calories in their diet by drinking tea in lieu of sugar-laden beverages that are nutrient-poor but calorie-rich.

Tea's Potential Role in the Fight Against Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease

Everyone is looking for a way to help fight heart disease and cancer. According to decades of research, consumption of tea has been linked to the potential risk reduction of both. Iman Hakim, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., Professor and Interim Dean of the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and Professor at the Arizona Cancer Center, University of Arizona, has conducted several human clinical trials over the past decade on the role both Green and Black Tea may play in certain cancers. Her latest human clinical trial suggests that bioactive compounds in tea have a significant effect on genes that impact cancer susceptibility and repair from environmental insults.

"The good news is that we are seeing that Green Tea is impacting genes that play a role in cancer, but we cannot at this point pinpoint who will be responders versus non-responders," noted Dr. Hakim.

In a preliminary study, Hakim has also found a beneficial effect of Green Tea on lipid profiles among smokers and former smokers. "Therefore, while there is no known downside of consuming tea, it may be beneficial and there's no reason not to drink it," according to Hakim.

Other new research presented by Claudio Ferri, M.D., Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of L'Aquila in Italy provided additional insights into how tea flavonoids provide support for cardiovascular health by promoting healthy endothelial function.

Tea flavonoids are thought to support cardiovascular health through several mechanisms, including: providing antioxidants to help the body fight inflammation; supporting healthy blood cholesterol levels; and supporting healthy blood vessel function, thereby promoting healthy blood pressure. These new developments in artery endothelium research add to the growing body of evidence suggesting that drinking as little as two to four cups of tea daily can promote cardiovascular health in several different ways.

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