Cheers! Healthy Holiday Drinks
Reported December 2009
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Tea, hot cocoa, apple cider … they're the perfect companions to an evening in front of the fire. But how many people think about the nutrients they're swigging from their mugs? Science has found some hot beverages that may boost your health with every sip.
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A little holly for the holidays, but inside this holly is quite a Christmas surprise!
"Like many hollies, it's an evergreen," Matthew Palumbo, an ecologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla., explained to Ivanhoe.
In these leaves is everything you need for an antioxidant packed cup of tea.
"We found quantities of antioxidants on the order of what you would find in green tea from Asia," Palumbo said.
That's up to four-times the amount of antioxidants found in pomegranates and blueberries. Discovered by Native Americans, tea from the yaupon holly also has by weight a similar amount of caffeine as Arabica coffee. Ecologists at the University of Florida found by using nitrogen fertilizer, caffeine concentration shot up 265 percent and they could manipulate levels of antioxidants using sunlight.
"Many of those people who are planting it in their yards have no idea that they have a caffeine substitute that's chock full of antioxidants," Palumbo said.
It may be good for you, but does it pass the taste test?
"Kinda herbal tasting," one taste tester described it as.
"Has a weird, like smoky taste to it," another person said.
"I don't know, it just kinda tastes like tea," said a third taster.
Another beverage with a healthy secret -- hot chocolate. A recent study in the Journal of Food Science found over 85 percent of cocoa flavanols -- chemicals that can protect against heart disease -- were preserved in recipes using cocoa powder, including hot cocoa. Science that warms your insides and gets you on track for another year of good health.
Yaupon holly grows naturally in the southeastern coastal United States, from Virginia down to Florida and out to Texas. Researchers caution that many U.S. holly species are unsafe for human consumption so be sure you correctly identify the plant before harvesting leaves.
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