One of the most popular types of tea in China, oolong tea may offer certain health benefits when sipped regularly. The tea undergoes only a small degree of fermentation during its processing, which gives oolong a flavor somewhat similar to black tea but more akin to green tea. Health claims for oolong tea's benefits include reduction of cholesterol levels, preservation of heart health, treatment of digestive disorders, strengthening of the immune system, and formation of strong bones.
Health Benefits of Oolong Tea:
Here's a look at several key study findings on oolong tea's health benefits:
1) Heart Disease
In a population study published in 2010, researchers found that consumption of oolong tea was linked to a reduced risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease. Participants included 76,979 adults, all of whom were ages 40 to 79 and free of stroke, heart disease, and cancer at the start of the study. In surveying study members about their beverage consumption, the researchers determined that those who drank coffee, green tea, and/or oolong tea on a regular basis had a lower risk of heart disease (compared to those who didn't drink such beverages).
Previously published test-tube research suggests that oolong tea may help keep cholesterol in check, possibly due to its antioxidant effects.
When paired with standard care, oolong may benefit people with type 2 diabetes, according to a small study published in 2003. After drinking 1,500 ml of oolong tea daily for 30 days, diabetes patients experienced a greater reduction in blood sugar levels (compared to those who drank water instead of tea). The study involved a total of 20 diabetes patients, all of whom took hyperglycemic drugs as prescribed.
3) Weight Loss
Several studies indicate that oolong tea may help promote weight loss. In a 2009 study of 102 overweight or obese subjects, for instance, researchers concluded that consumption of oolong tea could improve fat metabolism and, in turn, reduce body weight. After six weeks of drinking oolong tea daily, 64 percent of obese subjects and 66 percent of overweight subjects lost more than 2.2 pounds. Overall, 22 percent of participants lost more than 6.6 pounds.
Previous studies suggest that oolong tea's anti-obesity effects might be due to its caffeine content.
See other Natural Weight Loss methods.
Oolong Tea for Better Health?
Drinking oolong tea has not been proven to treat any health condition. Although consumption of oolong tea may offer certain health benefits, it's important to consult your primary care provider to determine which dose might be appropriate for you. In some individuals, high doses of caffeine may lead to a number of adverse effects (such as anxiety, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and the worsening of ulcer symptoms).
Han LK, Takaku T, Li J, Kimura Y, Okuda H. "Anti-obesity action of oolong tea." Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1999 23(1):98-105.
He RR, Chen L, Lin BH, Matsui Y, Yao XS, Kurihara H. "Beneficial effects of oolong tea consumption on diet-induced overweight and obese subjects." Chin J Integr Med. 2009 15(1):34-41.
Hosoda K, Wang MF, Liao ML, Chuang CK, Iha M, Clevidence B, Yamamoto S. "Antihyperglycemic effect of oolong tea in type 2 diabetes." Diabetes Care. 2003 26(6):1714-8.
Kurihara H, Fukami H, Toyoda Y, Kageyama N, Tsuruoka N, Shibata H, Kiso Y, Tanaka T. "Inhibitory effect of oolong tea on the oxidative state of low density lipoprotein (LDL)." Biol Pharm Bull. 2003 26(5):739-42.
Mineharu Y, Koizumi A, Wada Y, Iso H, Watanabe Y, Date C, Yamamoto A, Kikuchi S, Inaba Y, Toyoshima H, Kondo T, Tamakoshi A; and the JACC study Group. "Coffee, green tea, black tea and oolong tea consumption and risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease in Japanese men and women." J Epidemiol Community Health. 2010 Jul 14.
Rumpler W, Seale J, Clevidence B, Judd J, Wiley E, Yamamoto S, Komatsu T, Sawaki T, Ishikura Y, Hosoda K. "Oolong tea increases metabolic rate and fat oxidation in men." J Nutr. 2001 131(11):2848-52.