There is more and more evidence that drinking two to three cups of tea per day has benefit in reducing high blood pressure and other related illnesses such as stroke. Dr. Shamim, of Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, USA who is known for his work in physiology and cardiology has been quoted as saying that is generally believed that tea has anti-oxidants which play a role in managing several illnesses. How this exactly happens however remains a subject of research.
In examining this claim, we shall review what tea is, types of tea and active chemical ingredients. We shall also review the predisposing factors for high blood pressure and how tea helps in reducing the risk. I hope that with this evidence, you can make an informed choice whether to drink tea regularly or not.
What is the origin of tea?
Tea is a beverage that is made from the leaves of a plant scientifically known as Camellia sinesis. This is a shrub that grows to a height of about one foot tall and is best grown in cool highlands in the tropical regions. According to Botanists, the origin of this plant seems to be India and China. The British who colonized India are believed to have fallen in love with the beverage and played an active role in sending it to other countries that are known for tea production such as Sri Lanka in Asia and Kenya in East Africa.
What is the active component of tea?
Tea is drunk as green tea, black tea or oolong tea. Green tea, which is not fermented, is known as the most beneficial type of tea because it contains the highest amount of the active ingredients. Tea contains alkaloids, polyphenols, caffeine in small amounts, and catechin compounds that are the active ingredients with health benefits. It also contains L-theanine, an amino acid which has calming effects on the nervous system.
Health benefits of tea:
It has been demonstrated both in the laboratory and among human beings that tea has benefits in managing dental caries, inflammations such as arthritis, has a general antibacterial effect among many other positive effects. It has also been demonstrated that tea, especially black tea can increase production of bile leading to heartburn, and also increase the mutation of cancerous cells especially those of the prostate. We shall discuss more of the negative effects on the section on precautions and contraindications for taking tea.
In this article, we shall give more attention to the health benefits of tea, especially green tea, on management of high blood pressure.
What is high blood pressure and what are the risks (HBP)?
High blood pressure or HBP is one of the most challenging contemporary illnesses. It results from constricted blood vessels both in the outgoing arteries of the heart and in the blood capillaries of the body. The constriction happens because of the deposits of fats along these tubes that pass blood. The heart is therefore forced to work extra hard and apply more pressure to ensure that all body parts receive adequate supply of blood carrying nutrients, antibodies and oxygen. This leads to discomfort and may even lead to collapse of the heart functions. Where the heart fails to supply adequate oxygen to the brain, it leads to stroke.
What predisposes one to HBP?
The major predisposing factor for HBP is a sedentary lifestyle. This is what most of us who spend most of time seated in front of the computer screens or TV are likely to experience. The improved transport systems and regular use of vehicles or trains to work also limit the opportunities for exercising and therefore contribute to increase in body weight. In developed or middle income countries, the access to food with lots of fat also contribute to excess glucose and formation of fatty tissues which block the veins and arteries.
How does tea help reduce or manage HBP?
The fat deposits and their metabolism often lead to production of toxic substances including free radicals. Free radicals are known to punch other cell membranes and cause cell death. The free radicals are also able cause inflammation and mutagenic actions which cause illnesses such as arthritis and cancer.
The alkaloids and polyphenols in tea help in mopping up these free radicals as they serve as electron sinks. They accept of one the free hydrogen from the free radical compounds thus in effect making them less reactive. This means that they no longer have the inflammatory effects and are instead made safer to the body. This is how they reduce the inflammation along the heart muscles and thus reduce HBP.
Who should not take tea?
As much as tea has great benefits, it has side effects that make it not advisable for consumption by certain categories of persons. As already mentioned above, it can trigger more production of bile acids and therefore lead to heartburn. It is not recommended for those suffering from stomach ulcers. Because of limited knowledge on its effects on infants, it is not recommended for expectant mothers or toddlers. Others who may not take tea without advice of the doctor include asthmatics, those taking warfarin, those with mental or anxiety disorders and those who have been on long term treatment of cardiovascular diseases.
Conclusion: In conclusion, tea has great benefits that can help improve human health. It is effective in managing high blood pressure and host of other indications. Because it is relatively cheap, it is good for long term use and you can easily make it a regular drink without much cost. The benefits far outstrip the precautions. Where in doubt, please seek advice of your medical doctor.