In the United States and around the World, tea is a common staple beverage amongst consumers. In fact, tea is the second largest consumed beverage, following water and many high-end coffee shops are turning to tea as a viable alternative to specialty coffee drinks, boosting sales and revenue while tantalizing the taste buds to a new group of consumers. For many American consumers, using exotic tea, as an alternative to coffee, is believed to be not only a wise drink alternative, but also one which may boost health and avoid the progression of disease.
For some tea consumers, however, the intrigue with specialty tea drinks, using milk as an added ingredient, may be negating any potential health benefits associated with exotic tea consumption. Especially for those individuals who consume green tea and black tea, the use of milk, by specialty coffee and tea shops, may be destroying the healthy biological component of tea known as flavanoids. Flavanoids have a high amount of antioxidant activity, thus making them healthy for those consuming them. Common green and black tea leaves consist of about 25-30 percent flavonoids, including quercetin and gallic esters. Like the flavonoids in grapes and other fruits and vegetables, they also protect against heart disease.
Flavanoids (flavanoids on Wikipedia), common in not only tea but also in green vegetables, onion and even applies, provide a healthy benefit to the body in that they may play a significant role in boosting natural immune systems and preventing diseases, including cancer. It is because of flavanoid health benefits that many tea consumers purchase and consume exotic teas such as green tea. While the FDA has not officially released recommendations with regard to flavanoid intake, it is a common notion, among nutritionists and other healthcare professionals, that green tea does hold significant health benefits.
Unfortunately, through recent medical research, it has been determined that some tea consumers, when adding milk to the exotic tea, as in green tea, may be biologically changing the way these exotic teas assist the body in fighting off disease. Specifically, this biological research indicates very specific proteins found in milk products work to negate the effects and concentration levels of the flavanoids found in tea, especially in green tea. While this chemical and biological change in tea occurs, and may warrant the tea less effective in warding off disease and illness, it is not unhealthy to the human body. In other words, consuming tea with milk will, generally, not produce an adverse reaction within the human body however, for those tea consumers seeking to boost immune system responses, this addition of milk may be resulting in a mute effect.
Medical biologists indicate, however, that if tea consumers, especially those consuming green tea, must use milk as an additive, the therapeutic benefits of flavanoids should be obtained, naturally, from other sources. Eating green leafy foods, indulging in a variety of apples and strawberries, all provide for a healthy dose of flavanoids. Heavy tea drinkers also benefit from higher blood levels of HDL cholesterol and lower levels of “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) form of cholesterol. Additionally, it is thought that heavy tea drinkers have lower levels of certain liver enzypes, suggesting a reduced risk of liver disease.
The flavonoids in soybeans have also been attracting attention. Overall, substituting soy for dairy milk to add to your tea could have benefits all on its own. An 8-ounce glass of soy milk contains 4 to 10 grams of soy protein, 4 ounces of tofu contain 8 to 13 grams of soy protein, and a soy hamburger or hotdog contains about 18 grams of soy protein. Drinking two glasses of soy milk (instead of regular milk) and eating one soy burger daily would provide approximately 30 grams of soy protein.
So when visiting the occasional coffee or tea shop, before ordering up a cup of your favorite exotic tea, consider the health impact of the drink selection, in addition to the impact the addition of milk may play to your own personal health outcome. While milk is not an unhealthy addition to tea, when seeking to boost immune system or reduce the risks of some forms of disease, milk added to the tea may result in a less effective natural health selection.