To prevent Parkinson's, a research report newly published in the American Journal of Epidemiology tells us, it may be a good idea to drink black tea.
Black tea is the kind of tea most familiar in the English-speaking world. It's the tea made by fermentation, while green tea is the dried fresh leaf. Green tea has about four times the antioxidant polyphenols as black tea, but apparently, for preventing Parkinson's, the polyphenols are not critical.
The study of 63,257 Chinese men and women found that drinking just 23 cups of black tea month (that's 3 cups in 4 days) may slash the risk of developing Parkinson's by an astonishing 71 per cent.
Researchers already knew that caffeine and nicotine seem to protect against Parkinson's disease, but black tea is protective even without the caffeine.
Why would black tea offer some health benefits that green tea apparently does not?
Green teas contain more of the simple flavonoids known as catechins. As green tea is aged and fermented to make black tea, however, some of the catechins take on a more complex character to become theaflavins and thearubigins. It may be that these more complex antioxidants found only in black tea are the agents protective against Parkinson's disease.
Tan LC, Koh WP, Yuan JM, Wang R, Au WL, Tan JH, Tan EK, Yu MC. Differential Effects of Black versus Green Tea on Risk of Parkinson's Disease in the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2007 Dec 20 [Epub ahead of print]