For organic food consumers, the "in" choices today are green and white teas-both of which are rich in antioxidants. White tea contains slightly higher levels of antioxidants than green tea because it is "the least processed of all of the teas, immediately dried to prevent withering and fermentation," says Dr. Brian Rudman, a board-certified physician who cofounded Tempest Tea, a Dallas, Texas-based tea and herbal beverage company that offers many organic varieties. "Green, oolong and black teas-in that order-are more heavily processed, and all have about the same total number of antioxidants, but the types of compounds change during the process."

Most of us have repeatedly read or heard that antioxidants are beneficial, but how much do you really understand about their role in keeping you healthy?

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"The human body, at any moment in time, has a virtually immeasurable number of chemical reactions occurring," Dr. Rudman tells OrganicAuthority.com. "These reactions cause our muscles to contract, our heart to beat, our brain to recall thoughts and our immune system to fight disease. Whether due to injury, accident or outside insults, bad small-scale reactions occur that result in damage to our cells. This damage releases compounds known as 'free radicals.' These free radicals are unstable and seek stability by trying to attach to other cells. However, in doing this, they damage the other cells, thus releasing more free radicals and starting a negative chain reaction. These reactions are what, over years, lead to high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and cancer."

The human body fights back with antioxidants-compounds that bind and neutralize free radicals, thus halting that negative chain reaction. We usually have a sufficient supply of antioxidants in our bodies, but injury and environmental stressors (ultraviolet light, cigarette smoke, certain foods or viruses) can overwhelm it-a situation that invites disease.

"In our current stressful environment, we need to compensate by ingesting more antioxidants," Dr. Rudman says.

Medical researchers have found that people who enjoy antioxidant-rich green and white tea experience the following health benefits:

  • Reduced rates of heart attack
  • Lower blood pressure (even in smokers)
  • Weight loss (subtract 80 calories per day if you consume 3 cups of green tea daily)
  • Reduced rates of prostate and other cancers
  • Lower rates of depression and anxiety
  • irect effects against skin cancer when applied topically

As for caffeine, green tea contains about 20 mg of caffeine per cup (about 25% of the caffeine in a cup of traditional coffee). White tea contains about 10 mg per cup. By contrast, black tea-depending on the brand-can contain 30-75 mg per cup.

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But while many Americans have taken steps to ensure adequate vitamin intake and a balanced diet that emphasizes fruits and vegetables, Dr. Rudman firmly believes our next nutritional priority should be antioxidants.

"We now face new insults from cigarette and environmental smoke and contaminants; diets full of yummy, but mildly carcinogenic, substances; and a sun that has grown more powerful as the ozone has thinned," he says. "We need to bring more attention to antioxidants and give ourselves more tools to fight these outside insults."

Grab a kettle and start brewing!

Check out OrgaicAuthority.com's 100% organic artisan teas.