50+ health * Healthy living

White tea 'may prevent wrinkles'

white tea may prevent wrinkles It could also help treat arthritis

A nice cup of tea can be very relaxing at the end of a stressful day, but now it seems it may help you in surprising ways - even keeping you looking younger.

Scientists at Kingston University in London analysed the health properties of a number of plant extracts. Although many of them were found to have potentially beneficial properties, the researchers were stunned by the findings in white tea.

The research showed that white tea can prevent the activities of chemicals which breakdown collagen and elastin - which in turn can lead to wrinkles as we age. These chemicals are also implicated in inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Although the chemicals are a vital part of the body's normal workings, leader of the study Professor Naughton pointed out that "in inflammatory conditions, suppressing the activities of these excess components has been the subject of decades of research. We were surprised to find such high activity for the white tea extracts in all five tests that were conducted."

He continued: "We were testing very small amounts far less than you would find in a drink, the early indicators are that white tea reduces the risk of inflammation which is characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis and some cancers as well as wrinkles."

It should be noted that the study has not actually demonstrated that any of the plants studied have been successfully used in treatments of either wrinkles or any other condition. It has demonstrated the existence of potentially beneficial chemicals within the plants. Obviously more work is required to see how this can be of practical benefit to humans.

The study was funded by Neal's Yard Remedies and published in the BioMed Central journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

What is white tea?

In normal conversation white tea and black tea refer to tea either with or without milk. But in both cases the tea used to make the drink is generally "black tea" - 90% of teas sold in western countries such as the UK are black teas.

Black tea leaves have been processed to react with oxygen in the air. This strengthens the taste and caffeine content of the tea and also allows it to be stored for more than a year, hence its popularity.

White tea is tea that has not been processed. It often contains buds and young leaves. It is a speciality of the Chinese province Fujian. There have been previous claims that white tea has more health benefits that either black tea or green tea.

Green tea is made from a particular type of tea leaf which has minimal processing. It is very common in Japan.

This article was published on Wed 12 August 2009

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