Drinking black tea a popular way to get antioxidants

01:43, Jan 31 2009

Drinking black tea is the most popular way for women to consume cleansing antioxidants, Australian research shows.

Researchers at the Queensland University of Technology monitored the intake of antioxidants called flavonoids, found in tea, in 500 women aged between 40 and 80.

The study found 81 per cent of the women's flavonoid compound intake came from drinking black tea.

Lead researcher and dietician Pieta Cedaro said while the benefits of antioxidants had not been scientifically confirmed, they were linked with lowering the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

"They have been shown to be associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a number of cancers such as stomach cancer, lung cancer and bowel cancer," Mrs Cedaro said.

She said antioxidants had been shown to protect parts of the body from microbes that wreak havoc on tissue and blood cells.

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"Antioxidants work like a vacuum cleaner whereby they counteract the effects of reactive oxygen species, which are compounds which go around and create mischief," she said.

"By counteracting that effect you reduce the risk of developing cancers and cardiovascular diseases because it is the oxidation process that instigates the effects that lead to those diseases."

Antioxidants can also lower cholesterol levels and other things that trigger the so-called lifestyle diseases, she said.

Mrs Cedaro said tea is a particularly rich source of flavonoids and drinking it is a healthy and easy way to consume the compounds.

"Tea is incredibly rich, and in our society it's an incredibly important source – some women consume up to six and seven cups a day," she said.

"So it's a very easy way to consume and a very healthy way."

Other sources of flavonoids include red wine, chocolate, apples, bananas, oranges, onions and some herbs.

Mrs Cedaro said people who do not consume flavonoids are not at risk of developing the diseases but an antioxidant-rich diet may lead to a longer, healthier life.

"The aim is to improve our quality of life and eating certain foods high in flavonoid compounds appears to be associated with living healthier for longer."

AAP