Green tea has garnered a lot of good press in recent years because of its wide-ranging health benefits, but oolong tea, despite sharing green tea’s Far East origins and being incredibly good for you, remains slightly off the beaten path for tea drinkers. Here are 4 health benefits of oolong tea that are regularly discussed online followed by my thoughts on the topic:
Health Benefits of Oolong Tea
1. Weight Loss
Oolong tea is very rich in polyphenols: an antioxidant that activates the enzyme AMPK. AMPK stimulates your body’s consumption of glucose (or sugar) and enhances fat-burning. Moreover, oolong tea contains caffeine. Did you know that caffeine raises fat-burning rates by increasing your body temperature? Polyphenol and caffeine are a winning flab-burning combination and hence, oolong tea has the reputation to assist in weight loss.
Drinking tea for weight loss is a very contentious issue and as I mentioned in my What is Green Tea and Why is it so Popular article, if you’re told something often enough, you’re more likely to believe it. Lots of studies have been done on green tea and oolong tea, but this does not mean the other types of tea are less healthy. If you want to drink tea for weight loss, find the tea that you like and keep drinking it, but drink it as part of a healthier lifestyle. Eat well, drink plenty of fluids (including tea), exercise and sleep well.
2. Potential Cancer Prevention
Over 1500 Americans a day die of cancer, so none of us, no matter how healthy, can afford to take cancer prevention lightly. That magic weight-loss antioxidant, polyphenol, also happens to be great at cancer-busting. Research studies have found that regular consumption of oolong tea helps to shrink stomach tumors and prevent the formation of cancerous growths by blocking the action of carcinogenic agents. Read more about the cancer-preventing properties of Oolong tea (and tea in general) at the National Cancer Institute’s website.
There are many studies that have been performed which discuss drinking tea to prevent cancer. Many of the clinical trials have been conducted on the tea extract, a concentrate of the tea, rather than the tea leaf itself. Other clinical trials have been conducted on mice rather than humans and if you look at the National Cancer Institute’s website, it actually mentions that the evidence regarding the potential benefits of tea consumption in relation to cancer is inconclusive at present. Drinking oolong tea, may help, but it is not a cure and you should contact your physician for more advice.
3. Reduced Stress
If you’re feeling a little frazzled at work, why not brew yourself a steaming-hot cup of oolong tea? Oolong tea contains amino acids which help reduce neurological stress signals to make you feel calmer. When combined with the energy-boosting properties of caffeine, these amino acids will help you stay clear-headed and think fast even when under pressure. Plus, there’s really no overstating the comforting effect that a hot cup of tea can have in the middle of the day.
In fact, all teas that come from the camellia sinensis plant (remember this excludes herbal infusions) contain a calming component that helps us feel calmer. The component L-theanine is the amino acid that helps us feel calmer. With the caffeine component of tea helping to improve cognitive function, L-theanine is a great complement, as drinking tea helps us to stay alert and calm at the same time.
4. Healthier Skin
The natural antioxidants in oolong tea help to search out and destroy allergenic compounds that can irritate the skin, cause flare-ups in acne and eczema sufferers and cause the skin to look dull and dry. These effects were verified in a 2001 study conducted by Shiga University in Japan.
Keep in mind that this skin benefit that is purported to be associated with oolong tea is in fact contained in all teas. Teas contain antioxidants that are said to be able to assist in the fight against wrinkles and other skin conditions.