Looking to improve your heart health, shed some pounds, and lower your cholesterol, all while protecting your brain, neurological health, and eliminating wrinkles?
I might just have the right answer for you.
Loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that have powerful effects on the body, green tea is one of the healthiest drinks on the planet with tons of advantages. If you have heard about kombucha tea, which is also very healthy for you, you can read that article here.
And it’s been around for thousands of years.
In a previous post, I discussed 12 natural foods that fight free radicals and purposely left green tea off of that list. I excluded it because green tea has so many benefits it deserves its own post.
In writing this post, I learned that…
Green tea is made from the same plant as regular black tea. The difference in the way the leaves are processed gives the green variety its medicinal edge.
Green tea is not exposed to oxygen when it is harvested. This is what gives green tea its free radical fighting abilities.
It also contain catechins (which are some of the most powerful antioxidants around) most importantly epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG, which is a powerful fighter of free-radicals in the body. This class of polyphenols has recently become the focus of widespread studies for their anti-cancer potential that I will get to later in this post.
Free radicals cause harm to your body such as:
- Inflammation in the skin
- And more
So, I had to put together a post for you and include information that has not been readily shared in other posts around the internet.
In this post, I am not telling you that drinking green tea will rid all of your health problems and they will magically disappear. I want to share with you the health benefits of green tea and why drinking green tea daily, is good for you.
Let’s take a look at the compelling studies that show green tea’s health benefits. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!
What Is Green Tea?
Also known as “Chinese green tea,” green tea is primarily consumed in China, Japan, India, and a few countries in Northern Africa and in the Middle East. It has made its way to the Western world because of its many health benefits.
There are two tea sources of the Camellia sinensis tea plant from which the tea you and I drink is produced.
- Camellia sinensis sinensis: This is a smaller-leafed plant grown in China that is usually used to make green and white teas.
- Camellia sinensis assamica: This is a larger-leafed plant first discovered in India and is usually used to produce strong black teas.
When green tea is made, the tea leaves are harvested from the Camellia sinensis plant and are then quickly heated. They are heated one of two ways — by pan firing or steaming.
After being heated, they then are dried to prevent too much oxidation from occurring that would turn the green leaves brown and alter their fresh-picked flavors.
Why don’t all green teas taste the same…
Well, different tea growers have different cultivation practices. These practices include different times of the year the tea is plucked, how the plant is pruned, which parts of the plants are picked, and whether or not chemicals were sprayed on the plants, etc.
Many factors play into the different tastes.
Read on to find out just some of the reasons why you should be adding green tea to your daily diet.
Why Is Green Tea Healthy?
So what really gives green tea its numerous health properties?
Most of the green tea polyphenols are flavonols, commonly known as catechins. Products derived from green tea are mainly extracts of green tea in liquid or powder form that vary in the proportion of polyphenols (45-90%) and caffeine content (0.4-10%).
Green tea contains six primary polyphenols:
- Epicatechin gallate
- Apigallocatechin gallate (also known as EGCG) – the most studied polyphenol
Did you know…
these polyphenols are more potent antioxidants than vitamin C and also give green tea its somewhat bitter taste?
Before you head to the store and grab a box of green tea bags, let’s take a look at what green tea can do for your health.
Loaded With Antioxidants
If you want a science lesson on free radicals, click here. I will sum up what free radicals are fairly quickly.
Free radicals in your body add to the aging process as well as the development of a number of health problems such as cancer and heart disease. In addition to this, free radicals also cause cell death and DNA damage.
Antioxidants such as polyphenols, fight these free radicals by neutralizing or reducing them and prevent damage caused by oxidation.
There is a solution to fighting free radicals…
According to WebMD, green tea contains 10 times the amount of antioxidants found in both fruits and vegetables.
The more powerful compounds in green tea is the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate also known as EGCG. It has been studied to treat various diseases and could potentially be the main reason for green tea having such powerful medicinal properties.
Antioxidants in green tea can help block the oxidation bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol and improve artery function.
Tea is the best source of catechins in the human diet and green tea contains about 3 times the quantity of catechins as compared to that of black tea.
No single antioxidant alone can protect the body. It is important to eat a variety of foods to fight free radicals.
Green Tea And Cancer
More than 3,000 studies have been published showing that white, green, and black teas are all a cancer fighting tea.
Most of the cancer-preventive effects of green tea arise from EGCG.
1 cup of brewed green tea contains up to 200 mg of EGCG.
Studies have also found an association between consuming green tea and a reduced risk for cancers including, skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal, and bladder.
- One study found a statistically significant reduction of 19% in breast cancer incidence among women with high (>3 cups per day) green tea intake.
- A study performed on women who consumed 2.5 cups of tea per day resulted in a 60% reduction in rectal cancer risk compared with women who drank less than 1.2 cups of tea daily.
- Additionally the same study concluded that tea drinkers have a 42% reduced risk of colon cancer compared to non-tea drinkers. Men who drink more than 1.5 cups of tea per day were found to have a 70% lower colon cancer risk.
- Green tea may be associated with a 48% decrease in the risk of advanced prostate cancer, based on a study of almost 50,000 men over a period of 11 to 14 years.
Research found that the compound in EGCG in green tea helps improve the effectiveness of anti-cancer drugs such as Herceptin in the treatment of breast and stomach cancer.
The test results in the laboratory and mice indicated mixing EGCG with Herceptin might have better anti-cancer properties than standard Herceptin treatment alone.
It gets even better…
if you add citrus juice to your green tea your body can reap even more of the tea’s antioxidant effects, as citrus makes the catechins easier to absorb.
After hearing all of this, I can’t think of a better way to start my day than to have a nice warm cup or two of green tea.
Did you know…
Green tea could also keep you awake and alert longer while making you smarter all at the same time? There are also some foods that do the same. I wrote a post on brain foods if you want to read about them.
The key ingredient responsible for this stimulant effect is caffeine.
Caffeine blocks certain inhibitory enzymes in the neurons (nerve cells of the brain) called adenosine. In doing so, it actually stimulates neurons and neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine.
Apart from caffeine, green tea also contains l-theanine (an amino acid) which also increases dopamine and the production of alpha waves in the brain.
- Long term studies performed on a group of 30,000 adults indicated that those who consumed three or more cups of green tea a day showed a 69% decrease in the susceptibility towards Parkinson’s disease.
- The 2007 Scientific Symposium on Tea and Health established that l-theanine, which is unique to green tea, is linked with preventing age related memory decline.
- Another study performed on mice, showed that consuming green tea not only protects neurons from dying but also helps restore damaged brain cells. This is helpful in delaying the deterioration caused by diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
So if you feel like you need to fire up those neurons go ahead and brew yourself a cup of green tea to make all the difference!
Green Tea As A Relaxant
Though it has been established that green tea contains caffeine and can stimulate brain cells, it doesn’t contain as much caffeine as coffee.
Comparing green tea to coffee, it only contains 15 mg of caffeine per cup, whereas coffee contains 80 – 100 mg per cup.
More significantly, green tea also contains l-theanine (amino acid naturally found in tea leaves) that counteracts the negative effects of caffeine by providing relaxing and tranquilizing effects to green tea drinkers.
A study published in the 1999 issue of Trends in Food Science & Technology by Dr. Lekh Raj Juneja, shows that when two groups of women were made to consume 50 mg and 200 mg of l-theanine for a week
The group consuming 200 mg of l-theanine produced more alpha waves 40 minutes post consumption, resulting in increased relaxation as compared to the other group.
Green tea can help reduce some of your stress and anxiety by relaxing your nerves. In case you have too much on your plate and feel flustered, try sipping on a cup of tea.
Improves Heart Health
In previous articles, I have mentioned how cardiovascular disorders are the new epidemic of the present times with surging statistics of 7.4 million worldwide just for heart disease alone!
This is a problem…
Antioxidants and other constituents of green tea help to protect the heart and its blood vessels.
Series of epidemiological studies have concluded that green tea prevents both atherosclerosis and coronary heart disorders. In addition to this, animal studies have also confirmed that green tea prevents atherosclerosis.
People who drink green tea regularly have been shown to have a 31% reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Researchers also believe that green tea can help prevent heart disorders by reducing levels of cholesterol.
(Alex Redmond) Instagram page
Researchers suggest that consuming 3 cups of green tea could reduce your risk of heart attack by 11%.
According to a Chinese study recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, green tea reduces hypertension risk in regular consumers as compared to non-consumers of tea by 46%-65%.
I’m not a doctor, but I would consider drinking green tea every day as a preventive measure if you run a strong family history of heart disorders.
Green Tea Weight Loss
I personally recommend eating healthy, avoiding fast foods and sugars, and exercising regularly to lose weight. But, green tea as a fat burner is a real thing. Drinking tea for weight loss and bloating is not too farfetched when you understand the science behind it. Does green tea burn fat? Not necessarily but,
I already mentioned that green tea contains antioxidants such as catechins and stimulants like caffeine. These compounds aid in speeding up your metabolism.
As a result, green tea helps you burn more calories and lose weight. I’m not too sure if there is a such thing as a green tea diet, but adding green tea as a beverage during the day is a great idea!
In fact – as a weight loss tea – this is one of the main reasons most people begin drinking green tea.
According to a study, the combination of green tea and caffeine helped obese and moderately overweight individuals lose and maintain their weight. Other studies have shown no benefit.
Experiments have resulted in an average loss of 2.9 pounds in 12 weeks when a combination of green tea and caffeine was consumed.
- Elevation of metabolic rate
- Increase in fat oxidation
- Increase in insulin activity
A meta-analysis on the consumption of green tea showed that along with other factors involved in the process of weight loss, 2.5 cups of green tea helped burn 100 calories in a span of 24 hours.
The continuous ingestion of green tea extract, high in catechins, led to a reduction in body fat which is closely associated with major disorders such as obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
We already know that green tea is full of antioxidants, is good for both the heart and brain, and can help fight cancer, so why shouldn’t you drink it?
Green Tea And Cholesterol
Hopefully you know that building up excessive amounts of cholesterol in your body makes you vulnerable to heart attacks and strokes.
There are two types of cholesterol, the good kind (HDL) and the bad kind (LDL). The key lies in converting bad cholesterol to good cholesterol.
And guess what…
Green tea comes to the rescue once again. Research shows that green tea lowers total cholesterol and raises HDL (good) cholesterol in both animals and people.
According to one particular animal study green tea blocks the excess cholesterol from being absorbed by the intestine and therefore helps to get rid of it.
In addition, a meta analysis of 11 studies conducted in 2013 states that the catechins in green tea are responsible for its cholesterol lowering ability.
During my research on this topic, I did find that the length of these studies were not very long. The limited evidence suggests that tea does have favorable effects on lowering cholesterol and the risk factors associated with it.
Keep in mind…
Due to the small number of trials contributing to each of these analysis’, the results should be treated with some caution and further high quality trials with longer-term follow-up would be needed to confirm this. But this section was worth mentioning based on what I did find 🙂
Green Tea For Colds
This picture looks exactly like me when I am sick with a cold. My girlfriend complains at how big of a baby I am when I get a cold and have to lay in bed all day. I rarely ever get sick (knock on wood), because I am always eating healthy while avoiding smoking and e-cigarettes.
But, did you know…
Some people actually gargle with green tea to prevent contracting a cold or the flu?
Among the test compounds, the EGCG were found to be potent inhibitors of influenza virus replication! The catechins from green tea were successfully able to inhibit influenza virus replication in human cells during the trial.
Studies have shown that green tea can potentially reduce your risk of infection as catechins present in the tea can both kill bacteria and inhibit viruses such as the influenza virus.
I suggest drinking green tea rather than gargling it, but that’s just me.
Dental And Oral Care
But you may want to continue gargling for another reason…
Did you know:
- Green tea is used while making candy to prevent gum disease
- Green tea is also used as a mouthwash post tooth extraction to reduce pain.
Before you think these are baseless assumptions let me enlighten you on a small study performed in 2014 to compare effects of green tea and commonly used mouthwashes.
The final results suggested that green tea was equally effective in preventing tooth decay and antibacterial activities as the commonly used chlorhexidine mouthwashes.
Supplementary studies have also indicated that the catechins present in green tea inhibit the growth of Streptococcus mutans, a harmful bacterium that causes plaque formation and is the leading contributor to cavities and tooth decay.
Arthritis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Crohn’s disease are among the few severe inflammatory conditions that green tea can help with.
According to laboratory based studies, the polyphenols present in green tea are responsible for the protection against inflammation cased by certain harmful chemicals.
Since studies show an anti-inflammatory effect on IBD, green tea may also have links with preventing colon cancer as patients suffering from IBD are generally associated with a higher risk of colon cancer.
This by far is the most unique benefit of green tea and truly the reason why I consider this to be a miracle drink.
I mentioned earlier that oxidation and free radicals cause us to age and cause damage to our bodies over time. By drinking green tea and eating antioxidant foods, we take back control of our bodies and help fight these bad radicals off.
Several studies have demonstrated that the antioxidant and ant-inflammatory effects of green tea helps improve the quality of your skin. Green tea also helps fight off wrinkles and other signs of aging.
A study involving over 14,000 elderly Japanese individuals aged between 65-84 years illustrated that those who drank green tea were 76% less likely to die during the 6 year study period.
I went over a laundry list of health benefits of green tea in this article. Based on evidence, it is one of the healthiest drinks I know of. In order to feel better, lose weight and lower your risk of chronic diseases, you might want to consider adding green tea to your daily diet and start drinking it more often.
You must also bear in mind that green tea is good for you, and using herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating diseases as compared to chemically produced drugs.
Some herbs contain active substances and antioxidants that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications.
You should take herbs under the supervision of a practitioner, knowledgeable in the field of botanical medicine.
Green tea contains tannins (which can decrease absorption of iron and folic acid), so if you are pregnant or trying to conceive, then green tea may not be ideal for you just yet.
Comment below to share your stories and how you benefit from drinking green tea every day. I want to hear why you drink green tea!