5 Benefits of Oolong Tea
Health Benefits of Oolong Tea
Although Chinese teas are famously touted for their medical and curative properties, it's only recently that Western doctors have taken note and begun studying oolong tea.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, these are some of the health benefits of oolong tea:
- Sharpens thinking skills
- Improves brain function, mental alertness, and anxiety
- Prevents tooth decay
- Prevents osteoporosis (decreased bone mineral density)
- Reduced risk of developing certain types of cancer
- Reduces or prevents cardiovascular disease and improves heart health
- Reduces pain from arthritis
- Promotes weight loss and reduces obesity risk
- Prevents diabetes
- Minimizes atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries)
- Lowers high cholesterol and blood pressure
- Improves skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis
- Boosts immune system
While not all of these benefits have been confirmed by scientific research, doctors and researchers have observed that oolong tea does have some health benefits explained below.
Oolong tea leaves come from a plant called Camellia sinensis, which has chemical compounds that were observed to reduce the risk of a particular type of skin cancer. Researchers also found it reduced urinary tract symptoms .
It also has less caffeine than green tea, making it an ideal drink for people with chronic heart diseases.
A small study published in the Journal of Medical Investigation showed that oolong tea improved metabolism and may help you lose weight. The researchers tested participants' “Resting Energy Expenditure” and “Energy Expenditure” after drinking oolong tea, green tea, and water. It found that people who drank oolong tea had a higher REE and EE than plain water and green tea both. This study suggests that if you are working on improving your fitness and losing weight, regular oolong tea consumption may help.
Though oolong tea contains caffeine, the study found that properties of oolong tea, rather than caffeine, promotes fat oxidation, or weight loss. For this reason, oolong tea is a good option for people with cardiac problems, nursing mothers, or other people who cannot have large amounts of caffeine.
Researchers have found a relationship between drinking oolong tea and lowering cholesterol levels: They found that people who drank at least 8 ounces of oolong tea daily had a lower risk of high total cholesterol, triglyceride, LDL cholesterol levels. The research consisted of 76,979 individuals who consumed oolong tea daily for several years.
Researchers also found that drinking oolong tea may prevent cardiovascular problems in people with type 2 diabetes. Experts attribute these health benefits to the presence of polyphenols and catechins in tea.
In a separate study, researchers found that people who drink oolong tea daily also have a lower risk of heart disease in the long term.
According to the National Cancer Institute, there is insufficient research to confirm that oolong tea reduces a person’s cancer risk. However, several small studies suggest that oolong tea may inhibit skin, lung, and ovarian cancer.
Laboratory and animal studies found polyphenol chemicals, which are naturally occurring in oolong teas, may protect cells from DNA damage, and possibly inhibits tumor cell growth. Tea polyphenols may also improve the immune system .
While the early research in the efficacy of tea polyphenols is promising, researchers do not yet understand how or why it is effective, and are not recommending tea consumption in cancer treatment at this time.
Researchers have found that drinking oolong tea did not improve blood sugar levels or insulin levels. However, drinking oolong tea may lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes and prevent diabetes symptoms.
A small, 30-day study conducted in Japan found that daily consumption of oolong tea lowered the glucose levels in its participants by as much as 30%. However, a separate study found that consumption of caffeine, which is found in oolong tea, also lowered glucose levels in patients with Type 2 diabetes. The researchers concluded that a larger study with a bigger sampling of participants should be conducted.
Oolong tea contains an amino acid known as L-theanine. This amino acid helps to inhibit the release of caffeine, resulting in a longer-lasting energy kick. Since the energy boost is smoother, you don’t have to worry about the highs and falls associated with drinking a standard cup of coffee.
Consuming oolong tea also helps to rid the body of toxins that can cause damage to healthy cells. Oolong tea contains catechins and antioxidants that help to prevent free radicals from taking root. Free radicals are uncharged cells that bind with healthy cells and cause oxidative stress—the body’s form of rust.
Other Possible Benefits
While studies are in their preliminary stages (and thus unconfirmed), oolong tea has been associated with:
- Healthier gut bacteria
- Lower risk of Alzheimer's disease
- Lower risk of Parkinson's disease
- Stronger bones
- Fewer headaches
- Fewer bouts of insomnia
- Lower blood pressure