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Study unlocks the health benefits of a cuppa

Study unlocks the health benefits of a cuppa

From left, Dilmah marketing director Dilhan Fernando, PhD student Shiromani Jayasekera, Distinguished Professor Paul Moughan and Dilmah founder Merrill Fernando enjoy a cup of tea after discussing the results of Ms Jayasekera’s research on the health-giving properties of tea.

Thursday, March 20, 2008
Study unlocks the health benefits of a cuppa

Determining which Ceylon tea has the most health protecting properties – including reducing the risk of stroke, heart failure, cancer and diabetes – has led the Riddet Institute’s Shiromani Jayasekera to a research partnership with Dilmah.

Preliminary research established the chemical composition of antioxidant properties found in Ceylon teas, a project of interest to Dilmah as pickers and packers of Ceylon tea. Information on how altitude, soil type, weather, processing and freshness affected the antioxidants was assessed, adding to the collection of knowledge on existing studies that showed tea flavonoids to have antioxidant and anti-mutagenic activities.

Ms Jayasekera, a PhD student at the Riddet Institute, collected tea samples from Sri Lanka’s main Ceylon tea growing regions over a 12-month period, with the specimens then shipped to the Institute’s home laboratory on Massey University’s Palmerston North campus for further analysis.

Dilmah marketing director Dilhan Fernando says the research proves that the quality, flavour and composition of tea is affected by many things in the same way wines are affected.

“Dilmah is keen to continue to learn more about the complexity of its teas,” Mr Fernando says, “so it can offer tea drinkers as much information as possible about its health-giving properties.”

Mr Fernando, with Dilmah founder Merrill Fernando, visited Ms Jayasekera at the Riddet Institute in Palmerston North yesterday (Wednesday). Co-director of the Institute Distinguished Professor Paul Moughan says he was pleased to host the Dilmah visitors and share first-hand the findings.

“The Riddet Institute has had a long and productive association with Dilmah. The results of the tea research are so encouraging that it is planned to follow up with in vivo tests in humans next year,” Professor Moughan says.

Note: The Riddet Institute, formerly the Riddet centre, was named as a Government-funded Centre of Research Excellence in 2007, the only institution to receive new CoRE status. The centre was formed in 2003, bringing together talent from Massey, Auckland and Otago universities. The extended partnership now includes Crop & Food and AgResearch. Re-named the Riddet Institute earlier this year, the centre retains its emphasis on the fundamental science that underpins and advances the food industry.


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