December 3/Health & Medicine Week -- When deciding between the many options available, the best thing to drink is brewed tea, according to a study in the July/August issue of General Dentistry, the clinical, peer-reviewed journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).

Brewed tea has many health benefits; it is loaded with natural antioxidants, which are thought to decrease incidence of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

Mohamed A. Bassiouny, DMD, BDS, MSc, PhD, the lead author of the study, compared green and black tea to soda and orange juice in terms of their short- and long-term erosive effect on human teeth. The study found that the erosive effect of tea was similar to that of water, which has no erosive effect. In addition, when comparing green versus black, he discovered that there is a better option among those as well.

Bassiouny says, "When we look at tea and read about the benefits, it's amazing not because green tea is 'the in thing' but because there are advantages." He adds that much research done overseas, in countries such as Japan and Europe, found that green tea was identified to being superior over black due to its natural flavonoids (plant nutrients) and antioxidants.

However, experts suggest avoiding additives such as milk, lemon, or sugar because they combine with tea's natural flavonoids and decrease the benefits. In addition, stay away from prepackaged iced teas, because they contain citric acid and high amounts of sugars. It does not matter whether the tea is warm or cold as long as it is home brewed without additives.

Kenton Ross, DMD, FAGD, AGD spokesperson, sees patients' erosion problems on a daily basis in his practice. "Severe cases of erosion occur monthly and are frequently associated with high rates of soft drink consumption," he says. "This study clearly shows that brewed teas resulted in dramatically less enamel loss than soft drinks and acidic juices," says Ross. "I would highly recommend patients choose tea as an alternative to more erosive drinks like soda and fruit juice."

From the December 5, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash