Antioxidants are an important discovery in modern medicine.
While experts have always known of the existence of a particular group of nutrients which are able to 'cleanse' the body, the importance of these antioxidants to our health today has been pushed to the fore by the emerging threat of 'free radicals'.
Free radicals are produced in the body every day through the process of oxidation. Whenever we breathe, the oxygen inhaled oxidises molecules in the body, causing them to lose an electron and become unstable. These unstable molecules are known as free radicals. In order to become stable again, these free radicals steal electrons and, in the process, damage key cells including fat, protein and genetic material.
This, under normal circumstances, is all part of the natural process of life.
However, such is the state of life these days that we are constantly exposed to elements which accelerate the oxidation process such as environmental pollution, emissions from cars and factories and cigarette smoke. Our bodies today are producing more free radicals than before and the damage it does to our vital cells and tissues can no longer be countered by our natural defences.
Cue entry of antioxidants: Antioxidants help our bodies fight the wildfire of these free radicals by neutralising and eliminating them. Effectively, antioxidants as their name suggests, help to counteract the oxidation process and its harmful effects.
Recent research has strongly indicated a direct causative link between the damaging effects of free radicals and the occurrence of more than 50 diseases including cancer, heart disease and stroke.
Antioxidants in tea
Tea is one of the richest natural sources of antioxidants available today. In fact, the Antioxidant Research Centre in London has established that the concentration of antioxidants in two cups of tea is equal to the amount of antioxidants in seven glasses of orange juice and twenty glasses of apple juice! In order to maximise the health benefits of the antioxidants found in tea, a daily consumption of at least 5 to 6 cups, spread throughout the day, is recommended.
The main source of antioxidant activity in tea is polyphenols, in particular, a group known as flavonoids which are also found in fruits and vegetables (polyphenols are also responsible for the astringent taste of tea). The beverage also contains other antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene or vitamin A. It is worth noting that 85% of the antioxidants contained in a single tea bag are released within 3 – 5 minutes of brewing.
Findings also suggest that a small amount of milk added to tea enhances its antioxidant properties while too much milk will dilute it. It is recommended that the amount of milk added should be 2% - 10% of the volume of the tea.
One should be wary of tea that contains artificial colouring and flavouring, which can be carcinogenic. As part of the Company's policy to produce only high quality tea, BOH tea does not contain any form of artificial colouring or flavouring.