Health benefits of oolong tea include the reduction of chronic health conditions such as heart disease, inflammatory disorders, and high cholesterol levels, while providing vital antioxidants, promoting superior bone structure, robust skin and good dental health. Oolong tea is fragrant with a fruity flavor and a pleasant aroma. Despite its caffeine content, it can still be extremely relaxing to drink.
The health benefits of oolong tea are basically doubled because of the combined qualities of black tea and green tea. According to the Tea Association of the United States, oolong tea falls somewhere between green and black teas, as its leaves are only partially oxidized. There are numerous kinds of tea in this world; but oolong tea might be one of the most beneficial.
The origins of oolong tea date back almost 400 years, when it found wide usage in China. It is a semi-green fermented tea, but the fermentation process is halted as soon as the tea leaves start to change their color.
Nutritional Value of Oolong Tea
Tea is a natural gift that is rich in antioxidants. It also contains vital vitamins and minerals such as calcium, manganese, copper, carotin, selenium, and potassium, as well as Vitamin A, B, C, E and K. Additionally, it contains folic acid, niacin amide and other detoxifying alkaloids. It is developed in semi-fermented processing, providing the oolong tea with numerous polyphenolic compounds, adding even more valuable health benefits to oolong tea. Oolong tea also contains caffeine and theophylline and theobromine which are similar to caffeine which on consumption may stimulate nervous system.
Health Benefits of Oolong Tea
The various health benefits of oolong tea are as follows:
Weight Management: The polyphenol compound found in oolong tea is very effective in controlling the metabolism of fat in the body. It activates certain enzymes, thereby enhancing the functions of fat cells in the body. It is commonly believed that daily consumption of oolong tea can reduce obesity. More widespread studies need to be done on humans, but early studies are very promising. In one animal study, mice that were given polyphenols in addition to a high-fat and high-sugar diet still showed a decline in overall body weight and fat index. Some earlier studies actually showed that the caffeine content was the active ingredient behind the weight loss, but it now appears to be mainly due to polyphenols. Apparently, the active components in oolong tea make fat work for you!
Removal of harmful free radicals: The polyphenolic compound in oolong tea is also responsible for the removal of free radicals in our body, because it functions as an antioxidant and stimulates the behavior of other free radical compounds in the body. Therefore, consuming daily doses of oolong tea can help people from the potential harm that these free-moving cells often pose to the human body, including cancer, atherosclerosis, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, neurodegeneration, and diabetes. Any antioxidant characteristic of food or drink is beneficial, but polyphenols are particularly powerful antioxidants in oolong tea.
Healthy skin: According to scientific experiments, patients diagnosed with eczema can benefit from drinking 3 cups of oolong tea throughout the day. The beneficial results of oolong tea could be seen in less than a week in these patients, who showed remarkable improvement in their skin. Although the active mechanism has not been pinpointed exactly, many believe that the polyphenols present in oolong tea also work as anti-allergenic compounds, thereby relieving irritation and chronic skin problems, known as atopic dermatitis. In a 2001 study, 54% of test subjects were found to show positive, long-lasting results in terms of skin conditions after 6 months of daily intake of oolong tea.
Healthy bones: The antioxidants present in oolong tea protect teeth against decay, strengthen the bone structure, prevent osteoporosis, and promote normal, healthy growth of the human body. A number of studies analyzed the long term effects of drinking tea, particularly on bone mineral density (BMD). It showed that people who consistently drank black or oolong tea for more than 10 years were tremendously less likely to lose their bone mineral density over that span of time. It is thought that some of the components in tea actually stimulate the retention of minerals from other food that we consume.
Controls diabetes: Oolong tea is used as an herbal brew for treating type-2 diabetic disorders and as an addition to other supplementary drugs for treating that disease. It regulates the amount of blood sugar and insulin that is in the bloodstream at any one time, so the dangerous dips and spikes in blood sugar that can be so disastrous for diabetic patients was reduced. A 2003 study showed that when combined with regular hyperglycemic drugs, oolong tea further balanced the blood sugar levels and prevented the sudden drops in almost all of the test subjects.
Anti-cancer properties: It is well-known fact that tea drinkers have a lower risk of getting skin cancer. Moreover, polyphenolic compound in oolong tea promotes apoptosis in stomach related cancerous growths. This polyphenol extract also acts a chemo-preventive instrument against the development of other cancerous forms. The compounds stifle the activation of carcinogenic cells, prevent the formation of N-nitroso compounds, and trap genotoxic agents before they can become effective.
Stress management: In a detailed study conducted at the Osaka Institute for Health Care Science in Japan, the experimental mice that ingested oolong tea showed a remarkable improvement in their stress levels by 10 to 18 %. The natural polyphenols in the oolong tea was cited as the main cause of it being such a stress-buster. Also, the L-theanine found in tea leaves is an amino acid that blocks L-glutamic acid to glutamate receptors in the brain. This would normally cause cortical neuron excitement, which leads to increased cognitive activity and neural stress responses. Since this amino acid binds to those sites, excitation doesn’t occur, and stress decreases because you are more able to keep your mind at rest.
Mental performance and health: Health benefits of oolong tea include improved mental performance and alertness. Regular intake of caffeine rich oolong tea may help in improving mental performance and maintaining alertness throughout the day.
A Few Word of Caution: Despite all of these very important effects, it is important to remember that oolong tea tends to be very high in caffeine, which is not the healthiest component of this highly beneficial beverage. Caffeine treats many people differently, but some of the side effects of excess caffeine are headaches, anxiety, sleeplessness, diarrhea, heartburn, irregular heartbeat, and confusion. More serious conditions that can be exacerbated by too much caffeine are diabetes, heart conditions, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, and high blood pressure. Also, drinking too much oolong tea can actually sweep out excess calcium that your body is processing. For patients with osteoporosis, this can speed up the process of bone degradation, even though other elements of oolong tea are helpful for that condition. It is best to use it as a preventative method for bone health, rather than a treatment.
In other words, drink several cups of oolong tea a day, because it might be the best kind of tea for improving your health and is also a delicious and relaxing treat. That being said, be aware that caffeine is a powerful chemical, and monitor your body’s response to this change in your diet, just as you should with all new foods and nutritional sources.
References: Osaka Institute for Health Care Science and Tea Association