Health Benefits of Aronia Berries.

Aronia is a type of shrub native to North America that is now grown in Eastern Europe. “Aronia” generally refers to the berries that grow on the shrub. These aronia berries are also known as chokeberries because of their sharp, mouth-drying effect.

Aronia berries can be eaten fresh on their own or used as an ingredient in foods, such as pies, juices, and tea.

The berries are said to have many health benefits, including anti-cancer properties.

Many of the proposed health benefits of aronia are linked to its high content of nutrients called polyphenols. A 2015 review in Food Technology & Biotechnology noted that previous research had found aronia to have the highest polyphenol content of 143 plants.

In this article, we look at some of the possible health benefits of aronia, along with the evidence for them. We also examine their nutritious content and how they can be included in a diet.

Possible health benefits of aronia

Aronia berry

Aronia berries are also known as chokeberries, and are native to North America.

Anti-cancer effects

2004 study looked at the effects of grape, aronia, and bilberry extracts in preventing the growth of colon cancer.

The study found that while all the extracts inhibited the growth of the cancer cells, aronia had the strongest effect.

2009 study found that an aronia extract helped to reduce cell damage in relation to breast cancer.

The study’s authors concluded that the aronia extract had been shown to have protective qualities in people experiencing breast cancer.

Anti-diabetic effects

Research seems to support the anti-diabetic effects of aronia. A 2015 study in rats found that an aronia extract helped to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation related to diabetes.

2012 study, looking at insulin-resistant rats, found that an aronia extract fought insulin resistance on several levels. This result potentially makes it an effective aid in preventing diabetes from developing.

2016 study found that blood glucose levels and obesity were positively affected by aronia.

Organ health

2016 study looked at the effects of aronia fruit juice in rats with liver damage. Researchers found that the juice reduced the severity and symptoms of the liver damage.

A similar 2017 study also found aronia juice to have protective effects against liver damage in rats. The study’s authors suggested the effect might be due to the antioxidant activity of the aronia.

Another rodent study from 2017 found that aronia juice helped to reduce the severity of symptoms in rats with damaged stomach linings.

The study suggested that, in this case, the benefits of the aronia might be due to it boosting mucus production, as well as its ability to combat oxidative stress.

Artery and blood vessel health

2015 study found that aronia could protect against coronary artery disease. Aronia was thought to protect against the plaque that develops inside the arteries.

Both the aronia and bilberry extracts helped to relax the tissue, which would allow for improved blood flow. This is important, as many cardiovascular diseases result in a hardening of the arteries and reduced ability for the blood vessels to relax. This can also mean that the blood pressure drops.

Out of the three extracts tested, aronia had the most powerful effects. The researchers concluded that the extracts could have significant benefits in treating vascular disease.

2013 study supported these findings. Researchers found that aronia was effective at reducing blood pressure, and might help combat high blood pressure in the arteries.

Nutritional information

The specific nutrient balance of aronia will vary depending on the way it has been grown and prepared, as noted by a review. The review lists factors such as harvest date and where the berries were grown.

Like other berries, aronia is known to be rich in nutrients. Some of the nutritional details suggested by the review include the following:

Vitamins

  • vitamin C: 137–270 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg)
  • folate: 200 micrograms per kilogram (μg/kg)
  • vitamin B-1: 180 μg/kg
  • vitamin B-2: 200 μg/kg
  • vitamin B-6: 280 μg/kg
  • niacin: 3,000 μg/kg
  • pantothenic acid: 2,790 μg/kg
  • tocopherols: 17.1 mg/kg
  • vitamin K: 242 μg/kg

Minerals

  • sodium: 26 mg/kg
  • potassium: 2,180 mg/kg
  • calcium: 322 mg/kg
  • magnesium: 162 mg/kg
  • iron: 9.3 mg/kg
  • zinc: 1.47 mg/kg

All weights are the weight of the berries when fresh.

How to include aronia in your diet

Aronia berry juice

Aronia berries can be added to muffins, cookies, and wine. They can also be juiced.

People can eat aronia berries in many forms, including fresh and juiced.

They can also be used as an ingredient in baked goods and other recipes or taken in extract form via various dietary supplements.

Foods and drinks in which aronia can be used include:

  • muffins
  • pies
  • cookies
  • wine
  • jam
  • tea
  • juices

Possible risks and side effects

Aronia typically has a sharp, mouth-drying quality. This may be unpleasant for some people but is unlikely to present any health risk.

There does not appear to be any well-documented evidence of specific risks or hazards related to consuming aronia, although some people might be allergic to aronia.

Also,

Aronia is a nutrient-dense foodstuff, containing a wide range of vitamins and minerals, including zinc, magnesium, iron, and vitamins C, B, and K.

Specific nutrient values will vary depending on the way the aronia is grown and prepared, so each brand should be investigated individually.

Research suggests that aronia may have significant health benefits in terms of combating the growth of certain cancers and the associated damage to the body.

Aronia also appears to have significant positive effects in terms of insulin and improving immune function. These effects may be especially valuable to people with diabetes or prediabetes.

Researchers believe that aronia berries may have protective effects on the liver, as well as helping to reduce symptoms and damage associated with stomach disorders.

Finally, aronia seems to be effective in reducing blood pressure and aiding blood vessel relaxation. Some researchers suggest that it could be a useful tool in treating vascular diseases.

There does not appear to be any well-documented evidence of health risks associated with aronia, though dry mouth is a common side effect of consumption that some might find unpleasant.

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Cancer, Infection, and Autoimmunity in 2018

Cancer, infection, and autoimmunity in 2018: Will we win the war?

Vaccines proved to be a game changer in modern medicine. The fight isn’t over yet, however; cancer, infectious diseases, and autoimmune conditions still plague humanity to this day. Might 2018 see the tipping point in this war?
Biomaterial

Biomaterials can be used in a number of ways in the development of vaccines and immunotherapy.

Imagine a world in which vaccines are painless, could be applied in the comfort of your own home, and can even eradicate infectious diseases such as flu and HIV.

Think of immunotherapies that are specifically targeted to combat cancer cells, stop allergies in their track, and prevent organ rejection.

The secret to making this leap may potentially lie in innovative biomaterials, say Dr. Jonathan S. Bromberg, who is a professor of surgery and microbiology and immunology, and Christopher M. Jewell, Ph.D., who is an associate professor in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering, both at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Writing in the journal Trends in Immunology, Profs. Bromberg and Jewell take us through a journey into the fascinating world of biomaterials and the potential they hold to revolutionize vaccines and immunotherapy.

What are biomaterials?

A biomaterial is any type of material, whether natural or synthetic, that could be used in medicine to “[…] support, enhance, or replace damaged tissue or a biological function,” said the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

What does that mean? Biomaterials can hail from all walks of life. They come in the form of glass, ceramics, plastic, metal, and biological materials such as collagen and gelatin, and they can even be made from cells or organs.

Biomaterials can be made into large structures, such as hip joints, contact lenses, or stents, and smaller ones, including sutures and dissolvable dressings.

For the purpose of vaccines and immunotherapies, biomaterials have the advantage of being able to function at the microscopic level.

Profs. Bromberg and Jewell go on to explain, “Some of the broad classes of biomaterials include: (i) nanoparticles (NPs) and microparticles (MPs) formed from polymers or lipids that can be conjugated or delivered to immune cells; (ii) stable or degradable scaffolds for implantation; and (iii) devices such as microneedle arrays that target immune cells in the skin.”

While biomaterials are firmly entrenched in some areas of modern medicine — such as in the form of heart valves and implants — they are a relative late-comer to the field of vaccine and immunotherapy development.

Yet, Profs. Jewell and Bromberg point to their potential: better control over where and how quickly a vaccine is released, protection from enzymatic degradation or extreme environments such as stomach acid, and a way of manipulating how the immune system responds.

Fighting infectious diseases

When we think of vaccines, infectious diseases are likely what comes to mind. The majority of modern vaccines contain two elements: a part of the infectious microorganism or one of their antigens, and an adjuvant, which is a substance that activates the immune system.

The most commonly used adjuvant in vaccines is aluminium. But biomaterials themselves may soon feature as next-generation adjuvants, not just as mere delivery boys, because they themselves can elicit immune responses.

The multitude of biomaterials in development make this especially appealing; the shape, size, and chemistry of each specific material can be used to fine-tune the desired immunological response.

“Now we have an opportunity to have the carrier manipulate the immune system based on the structure, providing an additional route to engineering the most effective immune response,” explains Prof. Jewell.

For example, nanoparticles and lipids used to deliver an HIV vaccine in mice have shown improved immune responses, Profs. Bromberg and Jewell write.

“Another promising strategy recently entering the clinic,” they continue, “is delivery of vaccine components using microneedles.”

Microneedles are, as their name suggests, tiny needles that can be used to permeate the skin and deliver vaccines. As they are so small and do not penetrate very deeply, microneedles do not cause pain.

Using a dissolvable microneedle to deliver a vaccine against the flu virus in the first trial in humans showed that this technology achieved comparable results with a standard flu shot, even when study subjects applied the painless microneedle patch themselves.

As Profs. Bromberg and Jewell explain:

Such advances could transform the way vaccines are delivered, as well as the accessibility of effective formulations in developing regions. Not surprising, microneedles are also being explored as vaccines for HIV.”

Killing cancer cells

In cancer therapy, it is essential that a treatment homes in on its target. But this is easier said than done. How does a vaccine pick its way through our many organs and cell types to find the right spot?

Biomaterials can help in a number of ways.

They can be primed with a homing signal, such as a molecule that is specific to a cancer cell. This will allow the biomaterial to dock onto a cell bearing the matching molecule — like a lock and key — and deliver a chemotherapy to kill the cancer cell. By killing only the target tumor cells, the side effects of chemotherapy may be significantly reduced.

Biomaterials could also make use of the body’s own ability to fight against cancer cells. And, by binding biomaterials to immune cells — specifically, T cells that recognize cancer cells — studies show that it is possible to improve a T cell’s innate anti-tumor response.

Meanwhile, microneedles can be used to deliver molecules into the skin to prime the local T cell population to fight malignant melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer.

As Prof. Bromberg says, “This is a brand-new way of thinking about how, where, and when to deliver immune signals and antigens so you get a much better immune response.”

“It’s allowing some real paradigm shifts in thinking about vaccines for treating and preventing infectious disease,” he adds, “and also for potential vaccines for cancer.”

Keeping autoimmunity in check

Vaccines against both infectious diseases and cancer seek to harness a pro-inflammatory immune response. But the opposite is the case for conditions caused by autoimmunities, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), allergy, and organ transplant rejection.

Here, biomaterials can be used to suppress or redirect how the immune system behaves.

In experimental MS models, biomaterials have been used to deliver self-antigens or antigens to which only people with autoimmune conditions normally react, in order to shift the immune response from attack to tolerance. In mice, this led to improvements in symptoms.

The treatment of allergies with allergy shots is already well-established. However, many forms of allergy immunotherapy require frequent injections — up to three times per week during the initial phase — and can take several years to complete.

By encapsulating the active substances in biomaterials, scientists are now looking to create slow-release versions of the therapeutics. This would negate the need for frequent shots and may also reduce side effects and improve how the immune system responds, Profs. Bromberg and Jewell write.

For Prof. Bromberg, the prospect of preventing organ transplant rejection is particularly intriguing. Slow release formulations of immunosuppressants, specifically designed to control the levels of inflammation that occur after organ transplantation, have shown promising results in mouse transplant models.

The vaccine and immunotherapy war in 2018

“Despite the past advances of vaccines and immunotherapies,” write Profs. Bromberg and Jewell, “there is an increasing need for greater control over the types of immune responses generated to combat infection, cancer, and autoimmunity.”

Of course, there is work still to be done.

Few therapies have been tested in humans. Precisely how our immune systems will react to biomaterials will have to be studied in more detail before the war against cancer, infectious diseases, and autoimmune conditions will be won in our favor.

Profs. Bromberg and Jewell conclude by saying:

Still, biomaterials allow better control over responses to antigens, adjuvants, or immunomodulators and can be used to target these cues to particular tissues or cell populations, or to modify immune cells or pathogens.”

Eight Potential Health Benefits of Kombucha

Kombucha is a sweet, fizzy drink made of yeast, sugar, and fermented tea. It has a number of potential health benefits, including gut health and liver function.

This article explores eight potential health benefits of kombucha and looks at the research that supports them.

What is kombucha?

A jar of raw kombucha fermented drink, on a wooden table with chopped up lemon and a stem of ginger.
Kombucha is a fermented drink that is popular for its purported health benefits.

To make kombucha, sweetened green or black tea is fermented with a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, otherwise known as a SCOBY.

During the fermentation process, the yeast in the SCOBY breaks down the sugar in the tea and releases probiotic bacteria.

Kombucha becomes carbonated after fermentation, which is why the drink is fizzy.

Potential health benefits

There is a range of potential health benefits of kombucha, including:

1. Gut health

As this 2014 study confirms, the fermentation process of kombucha means that the drink is rich in probiotics. Probiotic bacteria are similar to healthful bacteria that are found in the gut.

Consuming probiotics may improve overall gut health. Probiotic bacteria have been found to help treat diarrhea, and some research suggests they may help ease irritable bowel syndrome(IBS).

More research is needed into how kombucha improves gut health, but the link between probiotics and gut health suggests it may support the digestive system.

The link between healthy bacteria in the digestive system and immune function is becoming clearer as more studies focus on gut health. If the probiotics in kombucha improve gut health, they may also strengthen the immune system.

2. Cancer risk

There is growing evidence to suggest drinking kombucha could help reduce the risk of cancer.

2008 study found that kombucha helped prevent the growth of cancer cells. Further research in 2013 found that kombucha decreased the survival of cancer cells. Both studies suggest kombucha could play a role in treating or preventing cancer.

It is important to note that these studies looked at the effects of kombucha on cancer cells in a test tube. More research is needed to see if people who drink kombucha have a reduced risk of developing cancer.

3. Infection risk

A type of acid called acetic acid, also found in vinegar, is produced when kombucha is fermented.

study carried out in 2000 found that kombucha was able to kill microbes and help fight a range of bacteria. This suggests that it may help prevent infections by killing the bacteria that cause them before they are absorbed by the body.

4. Mental health

Young smiling woman drinking fruit juice ice tea.
The probiotics in kombucha are thought to have the ability to treat depression.

There may be a link between probiotics and depression, suggesting that drinking probiotic-rich kombucha could help promote positive mental health.

There are strong links between depression and inflammation so the anti-inflammatory effect of kombucha may help alleviate some of the symptoms of depression.

2017 review looked at a number of existing studies and concluded that there is strong evidence that probiotics may help treat depression. However, further research is needed to prove how effective they are.

5. Heart disease

Levels of certain types of cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease. Studies in 2012 and 2015 found that kombucha helps to reduce levels of the cholesterol linked to heart disease. Cholesterol levels and heart disease are also influenced by diet, exercise, weight, lifestyle habits, and inflammation. However, the research cited here suggests drinking kombucha may help reduce the risk of heart disease.

At the same time, it is important to note that these studies were in rats. More research is needed to prove that kombucha reduces the risk of heart disease in humans.

6. Weight loss

When kombucha is made with green tea, it may aid weight loss. A 2008 study found that obese people who took green tea extract burned more calories and lost more weight than those who did not.

If kombucha is made with green tea, it follows that it could have a similarly positive effect on weight loss.

Again, researchers need to look at kombucha and weight loss specifically before this is certain.

7. Liver health

Kombucha contains antioxidants that help fight molecules in the body that can damage cells.

Some studies, the most recent being in 2011, have found that the antioxidant-rich kombucha reduces toxins in the liver. This suggests that kombucha may play an important role in promoting liver health and reducing liver inflammation.

However, studies to date have looked at rats and more research is needed to say with certainty how kombucha can support liver health in humans.

8. Type 2 diabetes management

Kombucha tea in iced bottles, with fruit segments fermenting.
Kombucha may help to stabilize blood sugar levels and aid in the management of diabetes.

Kombucha may also be helpful in managing type 2 diabetes.

2012 study found that kombucha helped to manage blood sugar levels in rats with diabetes. This finding suggests it may be helpful in type 2 diabetes management.

Again, more research is needed to say with certainty whether kombucha can have the same benefits in type 2 diabetes management for humans.

Are there any risks?

It is important to be careful when making kombucha at home, as it can ferment for too long. It is also possible for kombucha to become contaminated when not made in a sterile environment.

Over-fermentation or contamination may cause health problems so it may be safer to buy kombucha in a store than to make it at home.

Store-bought kombucha normally has a lower alcohol content than homemade versions, but it is important to check the sugar content.

There are many potential health benefits of kombucha. However, it is important to remember that research is ongoing and not all benefits have been proven in studies with human participants.

If made properly or bought in-store, kombucha is a probiotic-rich drink that is safe to enjoy as part of a healthful diet.

Hype or Hope? Killing Cancer with Vitamin C

There are few cancer treatments that give patients long-term hope of survival. Could vitamin C be the missing link?

The number of people who die from cancer each year in the United States has gradually been falling. While this might seem to be good news, cancer remains the second biggest killer worldwide.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the cancer death rate for men fell by 1.8 percent between 2004 and 2013, by 1.4 percent for women during the same period, and by 1.4 percent for children between 2009 and 2013.

But 1,960 children still died of cancer in 2014, and 595,690 adults died in 2016.

For patients, family members, and friends, as well as those involved in cancer care and research, these numbers are a stark reminder that despite the many medical advances of the past century, cancer still holds a firm grip on our lives.

The use of vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, as an alternative method to treat cancer has been making headlines since the 1970s.

What does vitamin C do?

Humans cannot make vitamin C because we lack the necessary enzymes. Instead, we need to consume this essential vitamin in our diet.

Vitamin C has several crucial functions, including playing a key role in the production of collagen, which is the central component of connective tissue.

It is also involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, and in the addition of the protective myelin coat to nerve cells in the brain’s white matter. In addition, it is known to have strong antioxidant properties, protecting cells from oxidative damage.

As vitamin C is involved in a host of processes that help to keep our bodies healthy, it may be no great surprise that research has pointed to several different ways that ascorbic acid can affect cancer.

Three different mechanisms have recently been described.

1. Switch from antioxidant to pro-oxidant

Mark Levine, from the Molecular and Clinical Nutrition Section at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD and colleagues showed that in the presence of metals, vitamin C produces hydrogen peroxide.

This molecule is a powerful oxidant and is very toxic to cells – especially cancer cells.

However, targeting cancer is not as simple as eating some extra oranges each day. Our bodies are extremely good at maintaining healthy levels of vitamin C when it is consumed in our diet. And when there is too much vitamin C in the system, it is simply cleared in the urine.

Levine shows that administering vitamin C by injection at high levels allows it to outfox our body’s control mechanisms.

Dr. Lewis Cantley, from Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, NY, and colleagues also found that vitamin C had a strong pro-oxidant effect in a study using colorectal cancer cells.

Treatment with high levels of vitamin C caused enough oxidative damage to these cells to kill them by a cell death process known as apoptosis.

In addition to the pro-oxidant effect that vitamin C had on cells in this study, Dr. Cantley found that it inhibited glycolysis, which is a metabolic pathway that cells use to convert glucose into energy.

2. Starving cancer cells from the inside

Making use of the cancer cell’s own metabolic pathways is key to the findings of Michael P. Lisanti, from the Biomedical Research Centre at the University of Salford in Manchester, U.K., and his colleagues.

In a cell model, they showed that cancer stem cells (CSCs) rely heavily on mitochondria for their metabolism. Mitochondria are small structures within cells that generate energy. Glycolysis and mitochondrial metabolism are intricately linked.

Once energy is released from glucose by glycolysis, the end product of this pathway, pyruvate, is taken into mitochondria, where it is the starting point for a series of biochemical reactions that release energy from the molecule.

Lisanti’s work is in agreement with the findings of Dr. Cantley’s study: vitamin C induces oxidative stress in CSCs and inhibits a key enzyme involved in glycolysis.

No glycolysis means no pyruvate, which, in turn, means that the mitochondrial powerhouses cannot generate any energy. The CSCs starve as a result.

And in a follow-up study, the researchers used this knowledge to design a new way of killing CSCs by using a combination of antibiotics and vitamin C. Some antibiotics, such as doxycycline, affect how well mitochondrial work.

Treating CSCs with this antibiotic knocked out mitochondrial function, leaving the cells dependent on glycolysis to generate enough energy to keep them alive. But hitting CSCs with a dose of vitamin C shut off that alternative by inhibiting glycolysis.

The cells were left without energy. The only option was death.

But energy metabolism is not the only weapon in vitamin C’s arsenal, it seems; vitamin C can also act on DNA and affect stem cell development.

3. Switching genetic control mechanism back on

DNA methylation switches off individual genes. Small chemical groups called methyl groups are added to stretches of DNA, making them inaccessible to the enzymes responsible for initiating gene expression.

This process is essential to normal cell function because an individual cell does not need to make use of the thousands of genes encoded in its DNA.

When a stem cell becomes a more differentiated cell type, certain genes must be demethylated, or have the methyl tag removed, to allow them to be switched back on.

But in the case of many leukemia patients, who have a mutation in a gene called TET2, this control mechanism does not function properly.

TET2 demethylates DNA and therefore allows access to certain genes. A mutation in TET2 in blood stem cells means that they do not develop into mature blood cells, leaving the body notoriously short of these vital cells. Instead, the stem cells continue to divide, resulting in blood cancers such as leukemia.

Luisa Cimmino, from the Department of Pathology at New York University School of Medicine, and colleagues used a genetically engineered mouse to study this.

In these mice, TET2 could be switched off in stem cells, leading to abnormal cell growth. When high doses of vitamin C were added, DNA demethylation was switched back on, and cell behavior returned to normal.

TET mutations or lower TET levels have also been found in other cancers, including melanoma, colorectal, gastric, prostate, liver, lung, and breast cancer, as well as glioblastoma.

Using vitamin C to turn back the clock on CSCs’ disastrous growth allows them to develop into mature cells instead. This is a completely different approach to killing cancer cells by oxidative damage.

Research shows that both strategies may have merit. But can cancer patients look to vitamin C for real hope?

Hype or hope?

According to the NCI, clinical studies using vitamin C in combination with other cancer drugs have shown mixed results. In some cases, patients felt that their quality of life improved. Other studies showed that tumors had stopped growing.

In some studies, however, vitamin C and conventional drugs used to treat cancer reacted with each other, and the result was that the treatment did not work.

A 2010 study by Levine revealed that U.S. complementary and alternative medicine practitioners frequently use vitamin C injections for a range of conditions – including cancer treatment – despite the fact that vitamin C is not licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this purpose.

So is vitamin C just another hype? There is no simple answer to this question. Research has certainly shown that vitamin C has the power to kill cancer cells or change how cancer stem cells behave, at least in laboratory studies.

The NCI currently report five active trials investigating vitamin C in combination with other cancer drugs.

What is clear, however, is the passion and drive with which scientific and medical researchers are pursuing this question. Lives are at stake, and everyone wants to know if vitamin C will soon be at the frontline in the fight against cancer.

Health Benefits of Oolong Tea

There is a record of tea being used as a beverage in China since 2,000 B.C.E. Besides water, it is consumed more than any other drink around the world. The four main types of tea are black, green, white, and oolong.

All four varieties come from the Camellia sinensis plant. Herbal teas are not considered true tea because they do not come from the Camellia sinensis plant.

Oolong tea accounts for only 2 percent of tea consumption around the world. Although less popular, oolong tea still has a variety of benefits. Read on to find out more information about oolong tea and its associated health benefits.

What is oolong tea?

Oolong tea is commonly consumed in China and Taiwan. In Asian countries, drinking tea is a large part of the culture and social gatherings. Friends and business associates often meet over tea.

Oolong
Oolong tea has a range of health benefits.

Although all true tea comes from the same plant, the differences occur in the harvesting and processing. Oolong tea is partially fermented, while black tea is fully fermented.

Tea can also differ in amounts and types of antioxidants. Green tea is high in a class of antioxidants known as catechins. Antioxidants in black tea are theaflavins and thearubigins. Oolong tea falls in the middle, regarding the antioxidant amounts.

Oolong tea and green tea contain similar amounts of caffeine, approximately 10 to 60 milligrams (mg) per 8-ounce cup. For comparison, coffee contains approximately 70 to 130 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce cup.

Unsweetened brewed tea is considered a zero-calorie beverage. It contains no fat, carbohydrates, or protein.

Potential health benefits of oolong tea

There are a number of health benefits that are thought to derive from drinking oolong tea, as with other types of tea.

Heart disease

Researchers in China studied the relationship between drinking oolong tea and cholesterol levels, as high cholesterol levels can be associated with an increased risk for heart disease.

They found that people who drank at least 10 ounces of oolong tea per week had lower risks of having high total cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels. The same was also true of people who drank similar amounts of green and black teas.

People who had been consuming oolong tea for the longest time had lower total cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL cholesterol levels.

In another study, Japanese men and women were studied for the impact of consuming coffee, green tea, black tea, and oolong tea on their risk of heart disease. Researchers found that men who drank 1 or more cups of oolong tea per day had a lower risk of heart disease.

Weight loss

study in mice showed that the animals receiving oolong tea extract while being fed a high fat, high sugar diet, gained less abdominal fat than mice on the same diet that did not receive the tea extract.

Green tea and black tea extracts also resulted in the less abdominal fat gain. The mice that received the green tea extract also consumed fewer calories.

study in overweight and obese Chinese adults looked at the effect of oolong tea consumption on body weight. Study participants drank 300 milliliters (mL) of oolong tea four times per day. After 6 weeks, more than half of the participants had lost more than 1 kilogram.

Cancer

Researchers in Taiwan examined the association between drinking tea and the risk of head and neck or throat cancer.

Each cup of oolong tea consumed per day equated to a 4 percent lower risk, but the result was not significant. Each cup of green tea consumed per day equated to a 6 percent lower risk for head and neck cancer, which was more significant.

Another study in Chinese women found that drinking green, black, or oolong tea was linked to a decreased risk of ovarian cancer.

However, according to the National Cancer Institute, there is not currently enough research to say for certain that drinking tea decreases cancer risk.

Diabetes

Some studies have shown that drinking 3 or more cups of tea per day is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

However, studies specifically looking at oolong tea have had varied results.

In one study, healthy men drank almost 6 cups per day of oolong tea. At different times, they drank oolong tea that contained supplemental antioxidants, which were in the form of catechins or polyphenols. Each of the teas was consumed for 5 days. Researchers found that drinking oolong tea did not improve blood sugar or insulin levels.

Interestingly, one study found that working men who drank 2 or more cups of oolong tea per day had a higher risk of developing diabetes than men who consumed 1 cup of oolong tea per day or no oolong tea.

Dental health

Fluoride is an element that is often added to drinking water, toothpaste, and mouthwash to help prevent dental cavities.

Tea leaves naturally contain fluoride, so drinking oolong tea could help prevent cavities. Excess fluoride can be harmful, but drinking less than 1 liter of oolong tea per day is safe for most adults.

Other possible benefits:

While there is not enough current research to support the following benefits, drinking tea has also been associated with:

  • healthier gut bacteria
  • lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • lower risk of Parkinson’s disease
  • natural defense from the sun’s ultraviolet rays
  • stronger bones

Studies that examined long-term consumption of oolong tea showed the greatest results. Although it is not a cure for any condition, drinking tea regularly appears to have numerous health benefits.

Risks and Considerations

Oolong Too much
Too much oolong can affect the absorption of iron into the blood.

Although oolong tea contains less caffeine than coffee, people who are sensitive to caffeine should still limit their intake.

Tea can decrease the amount of iron absorbed from plant foods. Also, some researchers found that young children who drank tea were more likely to have lower iron levels.

It may, therefore, be better to drink tea outside of meals to limit its impact on iron absorption. When consumed together at meals, eating foods rich in vitamin C can increase the amount of iron absorbed from plant foods.

Tea is a healthy beverage that has been consumed by people around the world for centuries. Oolong tea is a lesser known variety that may also provide health benefits. However, from some of the research reviewed above, drinking green tea may offer the most health advantages.

Bottled tea contains smaller amounts of beneficial polyphenols and may have excessive amounts of added sugar. If buying bottled teas, it may be better to look for ones that are unsweetened or to brew tea at home and sweeten it with a small amount of honey.

Oolong tea should be steeped for as long as possible to increase flavonoids, and people can consume 2-3 cups per day.