This is a free radical:
These little suckers are incredibly unstable. Why you ask? Because they lack a paired electron.
You see, a free radical is a volatile atom with an odd number of electrons. In order to make itself whole, the free radical searches for any available electron it can find; this usually results in larceny.
Much like a zombie apocalypse, once a free radical takes another molecule’s atom, that molecule itself becomes a free radical; this sparks a free radical, chemical-chain apocalyptic reaction inside your body.
On rare occasions, the loss of an electron can even leave a cell non-functioning or functioning in a completely abnormal way.
Most researchers believe that this process of oxidation is what causes or enables some of the most deadly diseases and illnesses, like cancer or heart disease.
Pu-erh Tea Health Benefits
So who or what can stop these reprehensible free radicals?
Flavonoids are a group of antioxidant compounds that inhibit the pro-inflammatory activity of enzymes in free radicals – preventing them from reaching vulnerable atoms or molecules.
Pu-erh Tea is loaded with complex flavonoids, containing around 100-300 mg per serving. It’s no surprise then, that studies have shown Pu-erh to be a significant source of antioxidants.
These same antioxidants not only fight against free radicals, but they also lower your overall risk of cardiovascular disease.
In a promising study, researchers found that Pu-erh tea extract lowered LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), triglyceride levels, and blood lipid levels while raising HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), in administered rats.
FAS (fatty acid synthase), is a major enzyme system in fat storage, and a dominant factor in cancer cells.
In a 2005 study, researchers found that administering Pu-erh tea leaves to rats, led to significant suppression of FAS in their liver – resulting in weight loss, a lowering of cholesterol and a slight reduction in triacylglycerol.
Researchers pointed to three major constituents in Pu-erh that produce this FAS suppression and weight loss:
Catechins are part of the Flavonoid family and an incredibly beneficial antioxidant for a whole host of different diseases and maladies. Along with Pu-erh, Catechins are found in non-fermented green, Oolong, and black teas; as well as a variety of face creams and cosmetics.
It’s important to point out that there is an astounding variety of Catechins in nature, the most notable ones found in Pu-erh include:
Epicatechins: Probably the most famous member of the Flavonoid family – they’re found in chocolate and green tea. Studies have shown a correlation between Epicatechins and increased follistatin and myostatin levels – two proteins that are involved in muscle growth.
Gallocatechin gallate: The main constituent of tannins in green tea – has been studied for anti-tumor properties and actually found to be the most effective cancer preventive polyphenol within green tea.
Fun Fact (and slightly shocking to some): Epicatechin gallate has been found to be a non-selective antagonist of the opioid receptors. It may not have a high enough affinity to actually save an overdose victim, but nevertheless, still interesting.
Along with tea, it is found in almonds, buckwheat, grape – and this wacky weight loss supplement.
Theanine and Caffeine:
Theanine was discovered in the 1950’s from a green tea extract – an amino acid analogue that has been shown to promote relaxation and prevent anxiety.
Caffeine, as I’m sure you know, is a stimulant and the most widely used drug on earth. The synergy between caffeine and Theanine is akin to peanut butter and jelly, but without the sticky teeth. The jittery side effects of caffeine are quashed through Theanine’s relaxant properties.
Our Top Pu-Erh Tea Selections
Smokey Pu-Erh is good Pu-Erh and Yunnan hits the mark. This exceptional selection is created by a very simple formula: high quality pu-erh tea leaves aged to perfection.
I’m not the biggest fan of loose-leaf Pu-Erh, but I know this is how the drink is usually consumed in the west – so I had to give it a try. This selection is pretty smokey and has a nice blended high-quality earthy flavor. I was pleasantly surprised. For loose leaf drinkers, Washan Tea has you covered!
Some other Great vendors:
Yunnan Sourcing – High-Quality affordable Pu-Erh.
Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company is one of my favorite tea-vendors. I’ve never ordered any of their Pu-erh selections, but I have bought some incredibly high-quality White tea from them. Also, their customer service is excellent.
Pu-erh’s unique history, smooth taste, and salubrious constituents make it a top contender for a drink you should be sipping, right now!