Milk vs Lemon in Tea
The weather is starting to heat up, or at least, it’s stopped raining for 10 minutes, and that means I can start my iced tea obsession. Preferably iced green tea–crisp, clean, and yummy. By now you’ve heard all about the health benefits of tea and the high amounts of antioxidants it offers. But you might not know that WHAT you put in your tea will affect the antioxidant level.
But before we get to that, do you know what an antioxidant IS? Or what it DOES? It’s one of the latest buzzwords thrown around in the media and on packaged goods, and everything from chewing gum to protein bars touts antioxidant power (It’s mostly BS).
Quite simply (and according to the National Cancer Institute), antixodiants are substances that inhibit oxidation and protect cells from free radicals, which may lead to cancer. Free radicals occur naturally in the body, as they are the by products of the body’s normal cell processes. However, these free radicals can attack cells, causing tumors and cancer. Current research has been focusing on how antioxidants can quench these free radicals and prevent cancers from starting. Phytochemicals, chemicals found in plants and fruits, are known to protect your body by acting as antioxidants, preserving nutrients, and preventing carcinogens (cancer causting agents) from forming. So eat your fruits and veggies!!! Tons of these good-guys are also found in tea, which has one of the highest concentration of phytochemicals.
The buzz about the importance of what you put in your tea came about when German researchers noticed that there are fewer cardiac cases in Asia than in Europe, and both countries drink a lot of tea. So, what’s the difference? Why do Asians have a lower incidences of heart disease? The British aren’t all that bad! The conclusion of their study was that MILK (and boy, do those Brits love their tea with a spot of milk) blocks the antioxidant properties that the tea offers, rendering the antixodants powerless.
The proteins in milk, called caseins, interact with the tea’s phytochemicals, completely blocking their biological benefits. Did you know the same thing happens in milk chocolate–the milk is said to inhibit all the antioxidant properties of the cocoa. That’s why dark chocolate (anything above 60%, but I love 85%) is better for you than the lighter varieties.
But back to tea…You just learned NOT to put milk or cream into tea. Then what should you put? Recent studies have shown that adding LEMON actually BOOSTS the phytochemical properties of tea, so add a squeeze to your hot mug or pitcher of cold iced tea.
The debate of whether green or black tea is better for you is still going on. The more important issue is to incorporate tea as part of your diet. I drink nettle tea or genmaicha green tea in the morning, and this cool green tea powder from Rishi with lunch. Herbal teas do not offer the same anitoxidant benefits as green or black tea, however, but there’s nothing as pleasing as a soothing cup of chamomile or lavender tea in the evening. And if I get the night time munchies, which happens a lot, I find that sometimes drinking some herbal tea, instead of eating, can fill me up.
The moral of the story: Skip the milk/cream, add lemon, and more importantly, make sure you are eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day.
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