Dear Peggy: I've heard so much about green tea being good for you. Is that true? And if it's so, does it matter if it has caffeine or if it's decaffeinated? —R.H., Fairborn, Ohio
There is a fairly strong consensus among researchers that tea really is good for you. Tea drinking has been linked with a lowered risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
Green tea contains flavonoids, substances that are believed to have powerful antioxidant properties. Such flavonoids have been shown to make platelets in the blood less sticky and, therefore, less prone to adhering to artery walls. They're also believed to protect healthy tissues against the cancer process.
The decaffeinating process destroys some flavonoids, which reduces the tea's antioxidant properties. While excess caffeine is thought to contribute to brittle bones by causing the body to excrete calcium, studies have shown that tea drinkers—those downing two or more cups a day—actually enjoy better bone health. A cup of brewed tea contains about 50 milligrams of caffeine, which is roughly half the amount in a cup of coffee. So keep on brewing your green tea.