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TEA OR WATER? BOTH!

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There was no evidence that tea consumption was harmful to health. However, research suggests that tea can impair the body's ability to absorb iron from food; meaning people at risk of anemia should avoid drinking tea around mealtimes. Dr Ruxton's team found average tea consumption was just less than three cups per day. She said the increasing popularity of soft drinks meant many people was not drinking as much tea as before. "Tea drinking is most common in older people, the 40 plus age range. In older people, tea sometimes made up about 70% of fluid intake so it is a really important contributor," she said.

Claire Williamson of the British Nutrition Foundation said: "Studies in the laboratory have shown potential health benefits. "The evidence in humans is not as strong and more studies need to be done. But there are definite potential health benefits from the polyphenols in terms of reducing the risk of diseases such as heart disease and cancers. "In terms of fluid intake, we recommend 1.5-2 liters per day and that can include tea. Tea is not dehydrating. It is a healthy drink."

Tea leaves are a very rich source of flavonoids. Flavonoids are a class of naturally occurring plant compounds that function as antioxidants. They are plant pigments and even if they are not labeled as essential nutrients, they enhance the processing of vitamin C, which is itself a powerful antioxidant. Flavonoids are also needed to maintain capillary walls and protect against infections. Deficiency of flavonoids may lead to easily bruising.

Flavonoids are extremely potent anti-oxidants. Antioxidant properties of the natural pigments fight against molecular oxidation by the free radicals; this is why they are called anti-oxidants. In our body, an infinite number of chemical reactions take place every day. A part of the chemical changes in the cells that use oxygen give birth to free radicals, which are harmful for the cells and the organism.

An excessive amount of free radicals interact with the DNA or parts of the other cells in the body and may damage them. But the antioxidants counteract and neutralize these organic "enemies." For the study, researchers have analyzed a large number of scientific works on water and tea's properties and effects upon our health. They found that tea rehydrates our body as well as water, but it also contains the "magic" ingredients, which keeps us from a wide range of various health disorders.

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