Health Benefits of Orange Pekoe Tea

A type of black tea, orange pekoe refers to the tea's high quality, not its flavor. Leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant are harvested and fermented, which results in black tea's color. The three grades of black tea are orange pekoe, pekoe and souchong. Because it's simply a type of black tea, orange pekoe contains the same general health benefits all black teas provide.

Close-up of orange pekoe tea. (Image: microgen/iStock/Getty Images)

Antioxidant Power

As a black tea, orange pekoe contains important antioxidants. An antioxidant is a powerful substance that protects your body against free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage cells. An article published in "International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition" in May 2000 noted that black tea is rich in compounds called flavonoids. These flavonoids, or pigments, contain antioxidant properties shown to reduce the risk of conditions such as heart disease and cancer.

Reduce Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Powerful substances called polyphenols and flavonoids, found in black teas such as orange pekoe, are linked to reduced risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, according to Harvard School of Public Health. An article published in "The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews" in June of 2013 noted that there is increasing evidence that black tea helps reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. Studies found black tea significantly reduced harmful low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and blood pressure.

Cancer Prevention Potential

Cancer is second only to heart disease as the cause of death in the United States -- accounting for nearly 1 in every 4 deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. Because it's black tea, orange pekoe may help protect against cancer. An article published in "In Vivo" in March 2012 noted that studies show the combined activity of cancer-fighting polyphenols in black tea slows the spread of cancer cells and suggests that black tea extract may act as an effective cancer preventive.

Antimicrobial Properties

Consuming orange pekoe black tea may help fight off unhealthy bacteria. Drinking black tea slows the growth of harmful oral bacteria, helping to prevent mouth infections such as strep throat and dental cavities, according to Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. An article published in "The Indian Journal of Medical Research" in July 2005 noted that tea leaves are known for their antibacterial activity against many microorganisms. This study showed that black tea is effective in slowing the growth of certain dangerous bacteria.

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