Oolong tea belongs to the same family as that of green tea and black tea. The only difference is that oolong tea is slightly more oxidized than green tea. This results in a slightly lesser amount of compounds called catechins, but better taste and flavor. Similar to black and green teas, oolong tea contains several vitamins, minerals, and helpful antioxidants.
It is known to contain vitamins and minerals like Fluoride, Sodium, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, Niacin, and other compounds like caffeine
Oolong tea contains several antioxidants including some which are known to be specifically potent. These are thearubigins, theaflavins and EGCG which belong to the polyphenols family. These are responsible for most of its health benefits. These compounds and minerals impart the ability to treat several disorders and ailments to oolong tea. It is said to be
The following are some health benefits of Oolong tea:
1. Improves Cardiovascular Health:
Oolong tea is best known for its action on cardiovascular disorders. It contains several antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and other compounds which are extremely beneficial for patients suffering from such disorders.
Oolong tea is known to reduce cholesterol levels in the body which are of immense help in reducing the risk of heart attacks. Oolong tea also helps control blood pressure due to their effect on endothelium dependent vasodilation. Lower blood pressure reduces stress on the heart and keeps it healthy.
2. Combats Free Radicals:
Lipids present in the skin are responsible for giving it the vibrancy and glow associated with healthy skin. Free radicals are substances produced in the body as well as accumulated due to environmental factors which accelerate the aging process by converting skin lipids into lipid peroxide. This is the major cause for the development of pigmentation and dark spots on the skin. Oolong tea contains several polyphenols and vitamins, which act as antioxidants. These antioxidants bind to the free radicals in the body and augment the body’s natural production of antioxidants. This helps to slow down the aging process, making the skin to look healthy and young.
The polyphenols which oolong tea contains have several far-reaching benefits. Their capacity to neutralize free radicals is useful in preventing a host of diseases like cancer, stroke, atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and neurodegeneration.
While similar results can be obtained from any other anti-oxidants, polyphenols are extremely beneficial since they are among the most potent and efficient antioxidants available in nature.
3. Controls Obesity:
Daily consumption of oolong tea has been known to help fight obesity by reducing the amount of fat in the body. This is due to the process of lipolysis activated by the polyphenol compounds present in oolong tea. These compounds enhance the process of fat metabolism by activating the enzymes responsible for the process. This means that for someone trying to lose weight in a healthy manner, oolong tea is a much safer bet than other chemical means, and is a valuable addition to a healthy diet.
This was proven by a study which exposed lab mice to small dosages of oolong tea, daily, over a stipulated period. The mice which were given oolong tea showed a higher rate of lipolysis and marked weight loss. The mice also showed a lesser amount of pancreatic fat, which is a major issue with obese people. This effect was due to the inhibitory effect of some substances present in oolong tea on pancreatic lipase activity. These effects were attributed to the presence of caffeine earlier, but later on, it was discovered that caffeine played a small part in this process and the major role was played by polyphenols, which are present abundantly in oolong tea.
4. Prevents Tooth Decay:
Oolong tea also plays a major role in improving oral health by inhibiting the growth and propagation of various bacteria responsible for oral cancers, tooth decay, and gum infections.
The antioxidants called polyphenols present in oolong tea contribute to the improvement of dental health and hygiene. Regular consumption of oolong tea can be of great help in reducing plaque, tartar, clearing the cavities consisting of harmful bacteria, and fighting tooth decay in general.
Oolong tea is known to protect teeth from various types of acids produced by the bacteria. These acids harm the outer enamel of teeth, leaving them vulnerable to damage. Apart from this, the fluoride content in oolong tea is responsible for the reduction of stains and whitens the teeth.
5. Helps Fight Cancer:
Traditionally, tea drinkers are known to have a lower incidence of various cancers like skin cancer, colon cancer, and pancreatic cancer. The major reason for this is the presence of substances like thearubigin and theaflavin which are polymeric polyphenols. The concentration of these substances is highest in oolong tea compared to other types of teas. These are highly effective and potent antioxidants which bind to free radicals which are responsible for the occurrence of various types of cancer.
Apart from binding free radicals to help prevent the development of cancer cells, polyphenols also play a major role in killing such cells which may have developed through other pathways. This is done by triggering the process of apoptosis or programmed cell death, which is the body’s natural defense mechanism to eliminate harmful cancerous cells. They also act as chemopreventive agents which suppress the development of some forms of cancer—ovarian cancer in particular.
Oolong tea has several components which show anti-cancer properties and drinking it helps to significantly lower the risk of developing ovarian cancer in women. They impact the activation of carcinogenic cells by preventing N-nitroso compounds from forming and capturing genotoxic agents before they become active.
6. Helps In Development Of Healthy Bones:
Antioxidants are probably among the most beneficial compounds available in oolong tea. They also play a major role in assisting the development of healthy bones. They are known to be extremely beneficial in preventing osteoporosis, especially in postmenopausal women.
Oolong tea is also known to contain magnesium and small amounts of calcium which help the bone strengthening process further.
7. Treats Diabetes:
The high concentration of polyphenols in oolong tea, in addition to the huge influx of vitamins and minerals like potassium, selenium, vitamin A, calcium, fluorine, phosphorus and magnesium provided by Oolong tea, plays a major role in treating several diseases.
Regular consumption of oolong tea has been proven to be helpful in reducing the levels of plasma glucose even in short periods. While this is a great benefit, the capacity of oolong tea to reduce the spikes and falls in blood sugar is more important. The major damage caused by diabetes is due to the sharp spikes and falls associated with it. Controlling this aspect of diabetes or even regulating it to an extent allows the body to recover faster from the stress and greatly increases the impact of allopathic drugs on the disease. Hence, oolong tea is an effective adjunct to oral hypoglycemic agents used for the treatment of type II diabetes.
8. Improves cosmetic appearance:
Oolong tea, apart from helping in treating several serious diseases, also is capable of treating several cosmetic issues of the skin and hair.
For example, Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a chronic skin disease which is characterized by redness, swelling, itching, scarring, and infection of the wounds or lesions caused because of frequent scratching. It has been proven that patients who consume a minimum of three cups of oolong tea daily in conjunction with dermatological treatment for this disease see a marked improvement in their condition and also recover much earlier with less scarring than the patients who do not consume it.
Despite the fact that the exact mechanism for this process is not yet clear, it is widely believed that this is facilitated by the presence of polyphenols, which have shown some promise as anti- allergenic compounds. This action is assumed to be the reason for the relief from itching and irritation.
Oolong tea is also known to play a major role in reducing lines, wrinkles, and patches on the skin which help to give it a youthful appearance. It also counters the harmful effects of UV radiation. These benefits are mostly due to the presence of antioxidants, polyphenols, and the vitamins in oolong tea.
One of the lesser known benefits of antioxidants is that they play a role in preventing male baldness as well. Baldness is caused due to the presence of the male hormone DTH, which causes the hair follicles to break off. The antioxidants present in oolong tea are known to help in the complete metabolism of DTH, which prevents hair loss.
Rinsing the hair with the extracts of oolong tea can help reduce itching, dandruff, and reduce dryness of the scalp and the hair, resulting in overall better-looking hair. The vitamins and minerals in oolong tea also help to soften the hair and prevent split ends.
Overall, while there are numerous benefits of drinking oolong tea, it should be noted that it has a certain amount of caffeine present in it. Caffeine is addictive and might cause restlessness and lack of sleep in some people. It also contains small amounts of oxalic acid which might aggravate the development of kidney stones, since it is a crystallizing agent. Children should be allowed to drink it only in moderation, and those with kidney conditions or on treatment for sleep disorders should avoid oolong tea entirely.