A wide variety of green teas have been highly valued in Japan and China for centuries for their health promoting properties. The elders of Okinawa, however, famous throughout the world for living extraordinarily long, lean and healthy lives, favor sanpin tea over other green teas popular throughout Japan and China.
Black tea and the variations of green tea (oolong, sanpin) originate from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. But the final product differs in phytonutrient content, style, taste and caffeine levels due to differences in climate, soil quality, and processing of the tea leaves. Green teas are not fermented or heavily oxidized like black teas and their processing tends to be mild, such as steaming or panfiring. Oolong (also known as wulong or wu-long) tea is partially oxidized while sanpin is usually minimally oxidized. This helps to preserve maximal antioxidant levels.
All of these teas contain abundant levels of natural plant-derived antioxidant compounds called polyphenols. Included within the broad antioxidant polyphenol class are flavonoids, of which catechins are one variety. Catechins are found in tea leaves and provide protective antioxidant action against harmful free radicals, which are unstable molecules created in our bodies when we metabolize food into energy. The body has two methods of dealing with free radicals-natural enzymes produced mainly in the liver (e.g. superoxide dismutase) or antioxidants from plant foods, such as tea.
Maximizing your antioxidant levels by eating or drinking antioxidant-rich foods while minimizing calorie intake and body fat levels by eating a healthy, low cal diet (we recommend The Okinawa Diet Program) and regular exercise is the most effective strategy to live longer and ward off disease. One such habit, as part of a healthy diet, that has appeared particularly promising is drinking tea, particularly green tea and its varieties, such as sanpin tea.
Since hundreds of studies show that free radicals are linked to cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke), cancer and other chronic diseases and since free radicals possibly accelerate aging itself, drinking sanpin tea with its high antioxidant may help protect the body against all of these age-associated maladies, by combating dangerous free radical activity. Further health benefits of sanpin tea may include lowering cholesterol, strengthening the immune system, promoting healthy blood vessel function and even protecting teeth and bones. In addition, sanpin tea provides a source of nutrients including magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium, and the vitamins C and K all in trace amounts.
Sanpin tea is produced in areas where there is particularly rich soil and a hot climate. This produces antioxidant-rich tea that has health properties that appear superior to usual green teas. The compounds contained within sanpin tea are the same compounds that have been used with clinical efficacy to induce accelerated fat loss in short term trials (e.g. with oolong or sometimes referred to as "wulong" tea). The Okinawa Centenarian Study scientists are currently conducting further clinical trials of the Okinawan diet and it's foods, such as sanpin tea to further substantiate such claims.
Specific evidence based health claims with published evidence from two or more studies that support sanpin tea include:
Burns Calories: Recent studies show that the antioxidant EGCG found in sanpin tea stimulates the body to burn calories, notably fat! This compound is found in very high quantity in sanpin tea. Dulloo AG et al. Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Dec;70(6):1040-5; Moon HS et al. Proposed mechanisms of (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate for anti-obesity. Chem Biol Interact. 2007.
Reduces Free Radical Cell Damage Associated with Aging: Researchers have found that sanpin tea is one of the richest natural sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants are powerful scavengers of cell-damaging free radicals: oxidants found in the body that cause intense cell damage and can lead to cancer or cardiovascular disease. Antioxidants found in sanpin tea are able to neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals. Antioxidants found in sanpin tea have been linked with cancer prevention, decreased risk of stroke, and lowering blood cholesterol. Sun JM et al. Two new flavanone glycosides of Jasminum lanceolarium and their anti-oxidant activities. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2007 Mar;55(3):474-6; Cooper R et al. Medicinal benefits of green tea: Part I. Review of noncancer health benefits. J Altern Complement Med. 2005 Jun;11(3):521-8.
Helps Prevent Arthritis: Antioxidants found in sanpin tea may prevent and reduce the severity of rheumatoid arthritis. In a recent study, polyphenols -- chemicals that occur naturally in tea, but in particularly high quantities in sanpin tea -- were found to be associated with lower risk for rheumatoid arthritis. Other studies found these compounds act as anti-inflammatory agents in osteoarthritis. Mikuls TR et al. Coffee, tea, and caffeine consumption and risk of rheumatoid arthritis: results from the Iowa Women's Health Study Arthritis Rheum. 2002 Jan;46(1):83-91; Baker CL et al. Future treatment of osteoarthritis. Orthopedics. 2005 Feb;28(2 Suppl):s227-34; Biological basis for the benefit of nutraceutical supplementation in arthritis. Curtis CL et al. Drug Discov Today. 2004 Feb 15;9(4):165-72
Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Disease (Heart Disease and Stroke): A Harvard Medical School study found that drinking a cup or more of tea a day significantly lowers the risk of heart attacks. Powerful flavonoids found in tea are believed to be responsible by improving the relaxation of blood vessels. Other studies show that drinking tea helps to prevent clogged arteries that can lead to heart disease, heart attack, or stroke. Sesso HD et al. Coffee and tea intake and the risk of myocardial infarction. Am J Epidemiol. 1999;149:162-7. Kim JA et al. Epigallocatechin Gallate, a Green Tea Polyphenol, Mediates NO-dependent Vasodilation Using Signaling Pathways in Vascular Endothelium Requiring Reactive Oxygen Species and Fyn. J Biol Chem 2007;282:13736-45. Chan PT et al. Jasmine green tea epicatechins are hypolipidemic in hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) fed a high fat diet. J Nutr. 1999: Jun;129(6):1094-101
Helps Guard Against Cancer: Properties found in sanpin tea have been found to inhibit the growth of esophageal and stomach tumors in mice. Evidence suggests other compounds present in sanpin tea inhibit the development of pre-cancerous lesions as well. Over 1,000 studies have supported reduced risk for cancer with tea consumption. A recent study showed that a compound called TF-2 found in sanpin tea caused colorectal cancer cells to "commit suicide", leaving normal cells unaffected. Yang CS et al. Tea and cancer prevention: Molecular mechanisms and human relevance. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2006. Friedman M et al. Structure-activity relationships of tea compounds against human cancer cells. J Agric Food Chem 2007;55:243-53.
Protects the Skin: Polyphenols found in sanpin tea suppress the carcinogenic activity of UV radiation. They also protect against many of the other damaging effects of UV radiation such as UV-induced sunburn response, UV-induced immunosuppression and photoaging of the skin. Yusuf, N et al. Photoprotective effects of green tea polyphenols. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2007 Feb;23(1):48-56
Calms the Nerves: In line with Okinawan and Chinese herbology, sanpin appears to have significant ability to induce relaxation. Ito Y et al. Sensory evaluation of the synergism among odorants present in concentrations below their odor threshold in a Chinese jasmine green tea infusion. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2005 Jan;49(1):61-8; Kuroda K et al. Sedative effects of the jasmine tea odor and (R)-(-)-linalool, one of its major odor components, on autonomic nerve activity and mood states. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2005 Oct;95(2-3):107
Contributes to Healthier Aging: Catechins and other flavonoids in sanpin tea have been found to reduce inflammation and free radical-induced oxidation. Regular tea consumption is associated with reduced risk for many chronic age-associated diseases and a longer, healthier life. Kitani K et al. IOnterventions in aging and age-associated pathologies by means of nutritional approaches. Ann N Y Acad Sci 2004;1019:424-6; Nakachi K et al. Can tea increase one's lifetime? Ageing Res Rev 2003;2:1-10.
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