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"Caffeine and other health benefits or concerns." (page 2)
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   Polyphenols are a general name for a group of chemical compounds which have become the target of considerable research in the past decade. Much of the research on polyphenols has focused on their ability to act as antioxidants in the human body.

   Antioxidants are chemicals which have the ability to deactivate a dangerous group of highly reactive atoms and molecules known as free radicals. These free radicals move around in cells, colliding and combining with other molecules, and over time, the effects of these continual collisions damage important bodily structures, including each cellís DNA. Damage to DNA may promote the development of certain cancers and also increase the frequency of cell replication errors.

   Some researchers believe that it is this cumulative damage that is at least partly responsible for some of the diseases of aging, such as heart disease, arthritis, wrinkles, some cancers, and to some extent aging itself. The polyphenols found in tea and red wine act as antioxidants and possibly anti-carcinogens in the body, and they may be beneficial in blocking some of this minute damage at the cellular level.

   As is also true with caffeine, the concentration of polyphenols is highest in the bud and first leaf -- approximately 20-30% of the dry weight. Climate and other agricultural factors also affect the total flavanol content as well; shading, for instance, slightly decreases the polyphenol content while the caffeine remains at a high level. Of the total solids extracted during infusion, around 40% are polyphenols.

   Polyphenolic compounds are highest in green teas because the leaves are not oxidized during processing. When black teas are processed, the leaves are oxidized for a number of hours, and it is during this time that most, but not all, of the unoxidized polyphenols are transformed through air exposure. It has generally been accepted that unoxidized polyphenols have greater biological activity than those which are oxidized; thus, white and green teas, as a whole, are more highly valued for health benefits.

   At Upton Tea Imports, we do not promote our products for any medicinal purposes but instead recommend that you consult a doctor about the possible benefits of tea.

 Related Information:
   Decaffeinated teas and the decaffeination process.
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