Study Finds Bottled Teas Lacking in Polyphenols

ScienceDaily is reporting on a study of healthful antioxidant levels in commercial bottled tea beverages.

According to the study, health-conscious consumers may not be getting healthful doses of the so-claled "poylphenols" that are reported to ward off a range of diseases.

Scientists reported at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Boston, Massachusetts on August 22 that many of the increasingly popular teas in their study contain fewer polyphenols than a single cup of home-brewed green or black tea.

"Consumers understand very well the concept of the health benefits from drinking tea or consuming other tea products," said Shiming Li, Ph.D., who reported on the new study with Professor Chi-Tang Ho and his colleagues. "However, there is a huge gap between the perception that tea consumption is healthy and the actual amount of the healthful nutrients — polyphenols — found in bottled tea beverages. Our analysis of tea beverages found that the polyphenol content is extremely low."

Li pointed out that in addition to the low polyphenol content, bottled commercial tea contains other substances, including large amounts of sugar and the accompanying calories that health-conscious consumers may be trying to avoid. He is an analytical and natural product chemist at WellGen, Inc., a biotechnology company in North Brunswick, N.J., that discovers and develops medical foods for patients with diseases, including a proprietary black tea product that will be marketed for its anti-inflammatory benefits, which are due in part to a high polyphenol content.

Li and colleagues measured the level of polyphenols — a group of natural antioxidants linked to anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic properties — of six brands of tea purchased from supermarkets. Half of them contained what Li characterized as "virtually no" antioxidants. The rest had small amounts of polyphenols that Li said probably would carry little health benefit, especially when considering the high sugar intake from tea beverages.

"Someone would have to drink bottle after bottle of these teas in some cases to receive health benefits," he said. "I was surprised at the low polyphenol content. I didn't expect it to be at such a low level."

The six teas Li analyzed contained 81, 43, 40, 13, 4, and 3 milligrams (mg.) of polyphenols per 16-ounce bottle. One average cup of home-brewed green or black tea, which costs only a few cents, contains 50-150 mg. of polyphenols.

For another recent study on polyphenols and other antioxidants in bottled teas and energy drinks, please check out this recent study, hosted on the Guayaki web site: