Not all teas on the market pack the same antioxidant punch, according to an analysis of 20 common brands that shows wide variation from one brew to another. Many studies have suggested that chemicals in tea known as polyphenols act as antioxidants that may help prevent heart disease, cancer and other illnesses. But if you're trying to boost your antioxidant intake by sipping tea, don't assume that all products are helping you achieve that goal.
Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles measured the polyphenol content of a variety of green and black teas that were brewed for about 3 minutes each and found levels as high as 217 milligrams for Celestial Seasonings Green Tea, 201 milligrams for Lipton Green Tea, 164 milligrams for Bigelow Darjeeling Blend (black tea) and 157 milligrams for Uncle Lee's Green Tea.
On the lower end, they found 53 milligrams of polyphenols in Stash Premium Green Tea Decaf, 46 milligrams in Twinings Earl Grey Black Tea, 38 milligrams in Bigelow Constant Comment (black tea) and just 10 milligrams in Bigelow Constant Comment Decaf. And when it came to the two iced tea mixes studied, results showed that both Lipton Lemon Iced Tea and Snapple Peach Iced Tea had no measurable polyphenol content at all.
The investigators noted that both black and green tea are derived from the same plant but are processed in different ways, which may account for some of the differences in antioxidant levels. Green tea is commonly thought to have more antioxidants than black tea. This was often but not always the case in the new study.
The tea industry is working on developing a standardized system for labeling tea's antioxidant content.
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