Green tea is hailed as one of the healthiest drinks in the world. It has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medication to improve mental and heart health, control bleeding, improve digestion and heal wounds.
Green tea, just like the other teas, is derived from the leaves of Camellia sinensis. The level of oxidation of the leaves determines the type of tea. Green tea is prepared from the un-oxidized leaves of the camellia sinensis. It is the least processed out of all the varieties of teas and is one of the best sources of polyphenols and antioxidants.
Green tea is a zero calorie beverage. It is rich in Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a potent polyphenol that is proven highly effective in eliminating the free radicals. It contains a small amount of caffeine, about 20 to 35 milligrams per 8 oz. cup. The caffeine content in green tea varies according to the amount of tea infused and the length of the infusing time.
The method of processing is the reason behind the health benefits attached to green tea. Black tea is processed in such a way that allows for fermentation, while green tea avoids the fermentation process. This way, green tea retains maximum amounts of polyphenols and antioxidant in it. Here are some amazing benefits of green tea.
According to the National Institute of Cancer, the polyphenols present in the green tea have been shown to decrease tumor growth by killing the cancerous cells. Green tea not only reduces tumor growth, but also prevents it from spreading. A large-scale study has found that green tea drinkers are 50% less likely to develop pancreatic cancer. An active proponent in green tea disrupts the metabolism of the cancer cells in the pancreatic cancer. It also has positive impacts on lung, prostate, skin and stomach cancer. A meta-analysis has found that women who drank green tea had a 22% lower risk of developing breast cancer. Green tea reduces the risk of prostate cancer by 48% and colorectal cancer by 57%. It also protects against the damage caused by the UVB radiation.
2. Heart diseases:
A 2006 study concluded that green tea could reduce death due to heart diseases. It works on the lining of the blood vessels, helping them stay relaxed. In a Japanese trial, participants who drank 5 cups of green tea daily had a lower risk of dying due to cardiovascular diseases as compared to those who drank less than one cup a day. Green tea is also associated with a reduced risk of stroke. It increases the antioxidant capability in the blood, protecting the low-density lipoprotein from oxidation. It also increases the high-density lipoprotein levels in the blood. Furthermore, green tea prevents the formation of clots, the primary cause of heart attack.
Type 2 diabetes is a health condition in which the blood sugar levels elevate, leading to insulin resistance. Green tea improves the insulin sensitivity and reduces blood sugar levels, lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes. A Japanese study has found that people who drank green tea had a 43% lower possibility of developing type 2 diabetes.
4. Weight Loss:
Green tea is highly acclaimed for its effect on obesity. Studies have found that drinking four or more cups of green tea everyday could burn fat, particularly in the abdominal area. A study conducted on 240 participants found that people who consumed green tea for more than 12 weeks noticed a significant reduction in their body weight, abdominal fat and waist circumference. Its diuretic properties eliminate excess water from the body, reducing weight. Do not take green tea with sugar as it can negate its weight loss benefits.
5. Mental health:
Green tea can also enhance your memory powers. The compounds in green tea enhance the brain’s cognitive function and make you smarter. Caffeine, also known as a stimulant, blocks inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine. This increases the concentration of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. L-Theanine, an amino acid present in green tea increases the activity of the GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that provides anti-anxiety effects. It provides relaxing and tranquilizing effects to the brain. Besides improving the brain function, it also protects the brain in the old age. The bioactive compounds in green tea lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease in the elderly.
The benefits of green tea can be owed to its high flavonoid content. Green tea contains several bioactive compounds like flavonoids and catechins that function as important antioxidants in the body. Several studies have proven that catechins are more powerful than vitamin C and E in preventing oxidative damage. The antioxidants reduce the formation of free radicals, thereby protecting the cells from ageing and other sort of diseases. Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) is one of the most of the most powerful compounds in green tea, the major provider of the medical properties of green tea.
7. Fat burning process:
Green tea is one of the best fat burning supplements. The antioxidants present in green tea increase the body’s ability to burn fat, thereby promoting weight loss. It increases the fat oxidation by about 17%. It also enhances the energy levels by boosting the metabolism.
8. Immune system:
The anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties of green tea make it very effective for keeping the immune system working at its best. The green tea chemicals stimulate gamma delta T-cells, bolstering the immunity against bacteria and viruses. The catechins present in green tea kill the bacteria and inhibit viruses, particularly influenza virus, lowering the risk of infection. It also inhibits the spread of various diseases.
9. Dental health:
Green tea is beneficial for dental health as well. Streptococcus mutans is a harmful bacterium that causes plaque formation, contributing to tooth decay and cavities. Catechins in green tea inhibit the growth of Streptococcus mutans, lowering the risk of caries and bad breath.
10. Skin care:
Green tea is very beneficial for treating wrinkles and other signs of ageing. The anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are responsible for it. Green tea, when applied topically can also reduce sun damage.
11. High blood pressure:
Angiotensin- converting enzyme (ACE), an enzyme secreted by the kidneys is one of the major causes of hypertension or high blood pressure. Green tea acts as a natural ACE inhibitor, lowering the blood pressure levels.
12. Food poisoning:
Green tea can also prevent food poisoning. It kills the bacteria in the stomach, reducing the risk of bacterial food poisoning. It also prevents the growth of dangerous intestinal bacterial strains like E. coli and clostridia, while promoting the growth of friendly bifidobacteria.
A recent study has found that green tea could prevent or reduce the severity of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The antioxidants in green tea inhibit the Cox-2 gene that triggers inflammation, just like inflammatory drugs.
A compound present in green tea blocks a key cell receptor that is involved in producing an allergic response. The compound blocks the production of histamine and immunogulobin E, the two compounds responsible for triggering and sustaining the allergic reactions.
How to use green tea:
There is a lot of debate regarding how many cups of green tea one should consume a day. Some say that as little as two cups are enough, while others say that you can drink as many as 10 cups a day. Try to drink at least 3 cups of green tea a day to absorb the antioxidants and other healthy plant compounds. Steep green tea for 3 to 5 minutes to bring out its catechins content. The best way to obtain the catechins in green tea is by drinking it freshly brewed.
Forms of green tea:
Green tea is available in the form of tea bags, loose leaf and instant powder. Its supplements are also sold in liquid extract and capsule form. Green tea extract ointments can help to treat the genital warts.
- Do not add green tea in boiling water as it can kill the catechins.
- Add lemon juice in green tea to make the taste more palatable. Vitamin C will enable the healthy compounds and nutrients present in green tea easier to absorb.
- Aim to drink at least 4 cups of green tea daily to obtain maximum benefits.
- There are not many health risks associated with green tea, but people sensitive to caffeine may experience insomnia, nausea, stomach upset, anxiety and irritability. Thus, caffeine sensitive people should limit their green tea consumption.
- If consumed with stimulant drugs, green tea can increase heart rate and blood pressure.
- Pregnant, breastfeeding women and people with high blood pressure should not take green tea supplements.
- The green tea supplements contain high levels of active substances that can interact with medication and herbs. So, make sure you consult your physician before starting with green tea.
- Green tea also contains tannins, which can decrease the folic acid and iron absorption. Thus, pregnant and women who are trying to conceive should avoid drinking green tea.