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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Health Note

Air Date: Week of May 25, 2001

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Living On Earth’s Cynthia Graber reports on how drinking black tea can help prevent cavities.

Transcript

GRABER: A strong cup of black tea can be a good pick-me-up. Now, new research shows it might also help prevent cavities. Most research on health benefits of tea have focused on green tea, and previous research had shown that drinking green tea can lead to fewer cavities. Green tea and black tea come from the same plant, and 80 percent of tea consumed worldwide is black tea. So, researchers decided to look and see if black tea had the same beneficial dental effects. In a study, volunteers rinsed their mouths with black tea five times for 30 seconds a pop, waiting three minutes between rinses. The researchers found that the compounds in black tea kill or suppress the growth of cavity-causing bacteria. It also stops bacteria from producing acid, which weakens teeth. In addition, these compounds counteract a bacterial enzyme and prevent it from turning sugar into the sticky stuff that binds plaque to teeth. So enjoy that cup of black tea. And, if you want, swish it around in your mouth a bit to hit all those hard-to-reach spots before brushing. That's this week's health note. I'm Cynthia Graber.

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CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood.

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