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Drink Tea? Stick to the Teas You Brew Yourself

That bottle of tea you drink may contain lower levels of beneficial polyphenols than regular tea, according to a study presented recently at the 240th meeting of the American Chemistry Society (ACS) in Boston.

Polyphenols are found naturally in plants and fruits such as green tea, cocoa, nuts and grapes. They have strong antioxidant properties which allow them to neutralize destructive free radicals and decrease oxidation damage in the body. These beneficial antioxidants have been linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory diseases.

These antioxidants are especially abundant in tea; however this study shows that polyphenol content may be much lower when tea is bottled.

The average amount of polyphenols found in just one cup of black tea ranges from 50-150mg but when researchers tested the polyphenol content in six bottled teas they found an average of 81, 43, 40, 13, 4 and 3 milligrams (mg) of polyphenols.

The researchers were shocked by these low levels and said that for many types of bottled teas people would need to drink bottle after bottle to see any benefits. One of the reasons for these low polyphenol levels is the fact that consumers often opt for sweeter, less bitter tea.

Polyphenols have a certain level of bitterness so many manufacturers add less tea and more sweeteners, which lowers the level of polyphenols. The researchers expect to publish the study towards the end of this year which should shed more light on the mechanisms behind their findings.

In the meantime, if you drink tea specifically for the its health benefits, drinking home brewed tea may be the healthier choice.

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