READING THE TEA LEAVES
Tea comes from an evergreen shrub native to East and South Asia (Herbal teas are made from other plants and are not true tea.) Tea has been consumed for thousands of years in Asia, where it is an important part of the cultures and has long been associated with health benefits. In China and Japan, in particular, its preparation and presentation have been taken to the level of an art form.
Green Tea, popular in Asia, is minimally processed. The leaves are steamed, rolled and dried. Black tea is withered, rolled or crushed. And then “fermented” (in this case meaning oxidized or exposed to oxygen) before being dried, which makes it black and stronger in taste. Oolong tea is partly fermented. White tea is harvested in early spring; the leaves and silvery white buds are just steamed and dried.
Unless it has been decaffeinated, tea averages about 40 milligrams of caffeine per 6-ounce cup versus 100 milligrams in coffee, on average, depending on the type, brewing time and other factors. Black tea tends to have more caffeine than green.
Tea’s effects on the body are still not fully understood, but don’t expect it to prevent heart disease, cancer or any condition on its own. Moreover, it is just one source of flavonoids and other polyphenols …. Fruits, vegetables, wine, coffee and cocoa are others.
Nevertheless, tea can be a healthy addition to your diet, especially if it takes the place of high calorie beverages. All types of tea have something to offer, including small amounts of minerals such as potassium. Without added sugar, tea has negligible calories. Check labels on bottled or instant teas. Skip green tea supplements. It’s not known whether they have any benefits or more importantly, are safe. In any case, they vary widely in composition.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, February 2014.
LATE-DAY CAFFEINE INTAKE AFFECTS SLEEP
Consuming caffeine within three to six hours before bedtime can significantly disrupt sleep, according to a study published in the November 2013 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Researchers found that giving the participants 400 milligrams of caffeine (equivalent to about two to three 8-ounce cups of coffee) between three and six hours prior to bedtime reduced the time they slept by an hour or more. These results suggest that beverages containing caffeine should be avoided during late afternoon and evening hours in order to allow healthy sleep. Insufficient sleep has been linked with numerous health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and depression.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, February 2014.
HEALTHIEST PRODUCE PARTS
In general, produce with edible skin such as apples, eggplant, kiwi fruit and pears offer healthful nutrients that concentrate in or just below the skin, such as antioxidants and insoluble fiber. So leaving the skin intact is usually the best way to preserve the full amount of fiber and vitamins. But the skin can also harbor bacteria and pesticides, so it’s important to scrub under running water before eating. When grown conventionally, apples, bell peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, peaches, pears and tomatoes tend to harbor the highest pesticide residue.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, February 2014.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
After the holidays simple desserts are my choice and bread pudding is an example. I like this particular recipe because it is custardy. Adults might like an ounce or two of Kahlúa or butterscotch liqueur poured on top.
• 2 cups dry bread cubes (a good way to use stale bread)
• 4 cups milk, scalded
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 4 large eggs, slightly beaten
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Soak bread in milk 5 minutes. Add butter, salt and sugar. Pour slowly over eggs and vanilla extract and mix well. Pour into 2-quart round baking dish. Set in a pan of hot water. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven until firm, about 45 to 50 minutes. Note: You can add 1/2 cup raisins before baking. Recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.
Source: Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens recipe.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY AND YEAR!
We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors. But they all have to live in the same box.
Source: Annie Watts Cloncs, Roachdale IN, 2013 Christmas letter.