There is a Chinese proverb - A daily cup of tea or more, keeps you out of the pharmacy. As you will shortly see, there is a lot of truth in this proverb. So, what is oolong tea? It is related to green tea and black tea -- they are all produced from the same plant. Green tea is made from the dried leaves, whereas black tea is made by fermentation of the leaves. Oolong tea is made by partly fermenting the leaves prior to drying.
Triglycerides and cholesterol are two important fatty substances in the bloodstream. These are essential for many things in your body but cholesterol also builds up on the wall of the arteries, causing them to narrow and restrict blood flow. This can lead to several problems including coronary thrombosis (a heart attack) and strokes, so high cholesterol levels are not a good thing. Studies in several countries have found many kinds of tea have some effect in reducing cholesterol in blood fats, though oolong seems to get the best results. It is thought that the polyphenols in tea inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the digestive tract, thus decreasing the cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. There is also evidence that they may decrease the blood's tendency to form thrombi, or unwanted blood clots.
Obesity is an increasing problem these days, it is well documented that overweight people are more likely to suffer heart problems. In the hustle-bustle of modern living, it is easy to resort to a junk diet. This is bad news for your body because it hangs on to the extra fat and lacks many of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are vital for your well-being. The Chinese claim that tea can actually help reduce the amount of fat in the tissues. Oolong tea seems to get the most publicity here, although any tea probably has some benefits. Chinese sources cite numerous cases of people who have lost weight while regularly drinking two or three cups of oolong a day. Oolong mixed with other herbal ingredients is the basis for a number of teas marketed especially for slimming. A Chinese ad for Slimming Tea claims that drinking it for three months can help you drop up to 15 pounds off your weight. I am not convinced that tea alone can achieve this but it seems that it can contribute as tactic in your weight-loss strategy.
Much research is being carried out on the role of tea drinking in preventing cancer. For example, out of 25 papers related to health presented at the Hangzhou Symposium, almost one third reported on cancer research. Research has found that oolong has some effect against cancer because it inhibits the formation or action of cancer-causing substances. It seems to be the epigallo catechin gallate (EGCC) that reduces the occurrence of uncontrolled DNA replication. Vitamin E is regarded as an excellent antioxidant; EGCC is supposedly 200 times more effective for neutralizing free radicals in the body. Another way oolong tea may help fight cancer is through preventing cell mutation. The antioxidant properties of the polyphenols in oolong tea may inhibit mutation of the DNA in healthy cells, which can cause them to become cancer cells.
Cured meats often contain nitrates which can be converted to nitrosamines in the digestive process. Nitrosamines are known to be carcinogenic. Tea may block the action of nitrosamines which can cause cancer, said Dr. Han Chi, an associate professor at the Institute of Nutrition and Food Hygiene under the Chinese Academy of Preventative Medicine. In a test of 145 types of tea, she and her colleagues rated green tea highest, with a blocking rate of 90 percent. Oolong and black tea followed in that order as the fermentation process destroys the EGCC. The partial fermentation of the leaves during the production of oolong tea reduces the EGCC level by approximately fifteen percent.
Long ago in China, tea was an ingredient in immortality potions favored by the Taoists. Still today, perhaps as an echo of those beliefs, claims are made that tea drinking helps one to live to a ripe old age. While it is no magic fountain of youth, some of its benefits can be said to contribute to longevity (stimulation of bodily functions, strengthening the immune system, reducing the chance of heart disease and improving stomach functions). The fluoride in tea can strengthen bones and help ward off osteoporosis in the same way that it strengthens dental enamel.
When pregnant or nursing only small amounts of oolong tea should be used, it can also interfere with MAO inhibitors and blood thinning medication. Also the consumption of oolong tea may interfere with the absorption of medicines. This article is intended to be for information about the nutritional benefits of oolong tea only and should not be regarded as medical advice in its own right. You should seek the assistance of a qualified physician if you require medical advice on any condition mentioned in this article.