Reading ‘a cup of tea’ is enough to induce feelings on contentment. Just the thought of it is calming.
We’re mostly concerned with Camellia sinensis – your regular tea bush that has numerous varieties. It can produce small leaf green teas, large leaf fermented black teas like Assam and hybrids like Darjeeling.
You can add milk, lemon or sugar to taste and the benefits stay the same.
But what is so great about a cup of tea?
Polyphenols – they give tea the astringent taste. They include antioxidant catechins, the one most prevalent in tea is epigallocatechin gallate shortened to EGCG and regularly mentioned as a strong antioxidant.
Stimulants – such as xanthenes and theobromines.
And caffeine: 1g black tea has around 25mg caffeine and 1g green tea has around 15mg – a longer brew gives a higher caffeine content.
Antioxidants act as free radical scavengers and help to reduce the oxidative stress from pathogens and pollution. They are thought to be protective against the inflammatory response that causes damage in heart disease and possibly neurodegenerative disorders.
But there is more to a cup of tea than chemicals.
Research looking at the role of tea in the reduction of stress found that drinking a cup of tea can:
- Signal the end of or a break from a stressful episode
- Gives a feeling of being cared for when someone makes it for us
- Makes us stop and rest, we can’t drink it if we are active
- Being hot, it takes time to drink – unlike a drink of water, there is time to rest and contemplate
- It can be social, which is good for our soul.
Walnuts – the edible options are endless.
Eaten Spanish style with cheese and honey is divine, in homemade cake or banana loaf is scrumptious, tossed in a salad or over breakfast cereal is a treat. The flavour is fabulous and the soft crunch under the teeth gives a brilliant texture.
Healthy Walnut Research
The University of Barcelona has been working on the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for years. The inclusion of a 30g daily serve of tree nuts, – mostly walnuts, with almonds and hazelnuts too, produced a massive 30% reduction in deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke.
What’s good in Walnuts?
Lots of poly and mono unsaturated fats – and to stop these fats going rancid, there are lots of antioxidants – all wrapped up in a crunchy fibrous structure.
Fats come with calories, it’s not surprising that 100g walnuts have 654 kcal – our Spanish friends recommend a modest 30g per day. Walnuts are 15% protein, 7% dietary fibre – a smattering of iron, calcium and selenium with bits of the antioxidant vitamins E and A, and some B vitamins folate and niacin. The high protein value means that a small serve of walnuts provides a big feeling of satiety. This comes with very little sodium and low carbohydrate.
The fancy chemicals are the flavanols, the anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins. These guys are the antioxidants associated with protecting us from heart disease and stroke.
Walnuts also contain a little choline which is showing promise in research on the prevention of cognitive decline in old age.
Storage – keep cool. All nuts are high in fats, to avoid them getting bitter and rancid we need to eat them promptly or keep them cool – and check the ‘eat-by’ dates when we buy them.
There’s lots more interesting info on walnuts, here’s a taster !
Try this quick, tasty breakfast for a healthy start to the day.
Half a cup/90g quinoa flakes
One and a half cups/360ml water
1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed
A few chunks of mango (fresh or frozen)
Two tablespoons of blueberries
One quarter cup/60ml milk
Honey or maple syrup to taste
Place water in pot and bring to the boil. Add quinoa flakes and cook for 90 seconds stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Pour in milk. Sprinkle flaxseed, mango and blueberries on top. Drizzle honey or maple syrup to taste. Delicious!