If you believe that drinking tea is good for your health, you may be right. Tea, especially green tea, has been linked to a lower risk of cancer, stroke, heart failure, and diabetes. But tea can contain large amounts of fluoride and pesticides and be very bad for your health, so bad that it's downright dangerous.
According to a British study published in the journal Food Research International, some teas, especially inexpensive store brand black and green teas, contain so much fluoride that they are putting consumers at a risk of bone loss and other health problems.
The study analyzed 38 brands of tea, and found that store brand teas contained an average of 6 milligrams per liter (about a quart). Guidelines suggest that an adult consume a maximum of 3 to 4 milligrams of fluoride per day.
When other products containing fluoride are considered, the amounts in fluoridated water and fluoridated toothpastes, for example, consumers can easily consume significantly more than the maximum daily amount.
The popular brand Twinings, although not a cheap store brand, had an average of 3.3 milligrams per liter. An American study from Washington University found that Luzianne tea bags (specially blended for iced tea) contained an average of 3.9 milligrams per liter, and a 2003 analysis of Lipton instant tea contained an average of 6.5 milligrams of fluoride.
Experts say that one of the first signs that a person has been poisoned by fluoride is dental fluorosis, which causes white and brown spots on teeth.
Too much fluoride can also cause skeletal fluorosis with its symptoms of bone and joint pain, muscle weakness, and gastrointestinal problems. Too much fluoride has also been linked to osteoporosis, kidney stones, and even cancer.
Tests have also found that tea can also contain residues of pesticides known to cause cancer, and since teas aren't washed before being packaged, you may be drinking a cup filled with pesticides.
Lab tests conducted by the lab Eurofins Scientific found that 91 percent of Celestial Seasonings had residues higher than the limits allowed by U.S. law. Some types of Celestial Seasonings, including some of the herbal varieties, contained the known carcinogens propachlor and propargite.
The expensive Teavana teas were also found to contain pesticides, and one was found to harbor 23 pesticides.
How can you protect yourself? Green tea, in general, contains less fluoride than black tea, and white tea contains even less.
Also, stick to organic teas when possible, since they're not supposed to contain pesticides.
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