Updated: Jul 13, 2020
In the world of tea not all antioxidants are created equal. While the health benefits of green tea are well documented, the goodness within black tea has been undervalued. It is not dull and lifeless, it is in fact packed full of antioxidants called Theaflavins.
Antioxidants help prevent molecules oxidising in your body, which can lead to cell damage. Oxidation is a type of chemical reaction where electrons are lost causing a form of decay. Classic examples of this process are rust on metals or when you cut an apple in half and expose it to the air, the browning is caused by oxidation. Antioxidants have the ability to block these decaying reactions, thus have the potential to prevent certain ailments such as cancer.
Green tea contains an abundance of antioxidants called Catechins, whereas black tea contains a plethora of Theaflavins. The reason for this difference is down to how the two different teas are processed after they are picked. Green tea is cooked and dried, whereas black tea ironically undergoes a process of oxidation. This action changes the chemical makeup of the leaves, transforming those catechins into the form of theaflavins antioxidants. The reason for the neglect of theaflavins is that significantly more research has been done on catechins, therefore more health claims have sprung up around the health properties of green tea. But that does not mean that black tea does not contain the same kind of valuable assets.
The research into theaflavins has shown that they can positively alter the shapes of the proteins which are related to the causes of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Which means that there is a potential of theaflavins to provide a small layer of protection against these degenerative diseases. There also studies that suggest that Theaflavins help cardiovascular health as they can block the body's uptake of fatty acids as well as potentially reducing the amount of cholesterol absorbed. Theaflavins also appear to help the T-cells which destroy tumour cells as many different studies on their antioxidant effect on free radical cells which cause cancer of various different types.
The potential of these theaflavins is now being explored but there is no doubt that the health potential of black tea is equal to, or potentially even more so, than green tea. So don’t dismiss that cup of breakfast tea as just a little pick me up, it is a real part of your healthy diet.