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Going green with tea is one of the wisest health moves you can make. Read on to discover the exciting benefits this ancient herbal beverage has to offer.
The brewing and enjoyment of green tea started in China long ago but today this healthy beverage is enjoyed throughout Asia and in the Western world. Green tea, like other teas, is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The leaves used to produce green tea, however, do not undergo the same drying and oxidation process used to produce black tea. This fact immediately makes that cuppa of green a healthier option.
HOW MUCH?To safely reap the health benefits green tea offers, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends drinking two to three cups a day. This supplies you with 240 to 320 mg of polyphenols.1If the taste of green tea is not to your liking or you don’t have the time to make it, consider a good-quality supplement. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends 100 to 750 mg/day of a standardised green tea extract supplement. If you are sensitive to caffeine, caffeine-free products are available.
It is best not to give children green tea as not enough research has been done to determine safety and efficacy.
HEALTH BENEFITSGreen tea’s wide popularity is largely due to the health and vitality benefits it carries due to its high antioxidant and nutrient content. Green tea is rich in natural plant compounds called polyphenols which include catechins such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate, and epicatechin. It also contains flavonols such as kaempferol, quercetin, and myricitin.2
Antioxidant activityThe catechins and flavonols in green tea act as strong antioxidants, discouraging the formation and build-up of free radicals and thereby protecting cells from ageing and certain diseases. EGCG is a particularly powerful catechin and it is believed that this plant compound is one of the main reasons why green tea is effective medicinally.
Improved cognitive functionGreen tea contains some caffeine, although not as much as coffee, which increases neuron activity and the concentration of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine.3 Caffeine, therefore, may lead to improvement in brain function and even mood.4
Again, however, if you are sensitive to caffeine, rather avoid it.
Green tea is also a source of the amino acid L-theanine which produces an anti-anxiety effect. It has been shown that a combination of caffeine and L-theanine could improve brain function.5
Anti-cancer effectsStudies have shown that the antioxidants in green tea may protect against some types of cancer.6 Antioxidants can reduce the risk of cancer because they eliminate free radicals and may protect against or slow the uncontrolled growth of cells. It is well known that free radicals damage cell membranes, cell proteins and DNA. Green tea may protect against breast, colectoral and prostate cancer.
A lowered risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseaseSipping on green tea throughout your life may not only boost brain function in younger years but may also combat the onset of Alzheimer’s disease – the leading cause of dementia – and Parkinson’s disease which is the most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s.
Research has shown that catechins in green tea may protect neurons, reducing the risk of the onset of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.7
Microbes at bay and improved dental healthCatechins in green tea may have the ability to kill certain bacteria that cause diarrhoea, for example,8 and even inhibit viral activity (such as the ’flu virus) – another great reason to down your cups of green goodness every day. Green tea catechins can also keep the bacterium Streptococcus mutans at bay. This bacterium lives in the mouth causing plaque build-up and so contributing to tooth decay. Drink your green tea to keep your breath fresh and your pearly whites protected.9,10
Reduced risk for diabetesAccording the World Health Organisation, ‘The number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014.’11 Type 2 diabetes is characterised by raised blood sugar levels due to insulin resistance or the body’s inability to produce insulin. Research shows that green tea may improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.12
Good for the heartConsuming green tea may also protect you against cardiovascular disease (CVD) as well as stroke. Green tea has a positive effect on total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. The powerful antioxidant properties of green tea prevents the oxidation of LDL particles – a cause of heart disease.13
Longer lifeWe all want to live a long and healthy life and with green tea that may just be more possible. We have already seen that the nutrients in green tea protect against certain serious diseases, but research has also shown that 14 000 elderly Japanese adults ranging in age from 65 to 84 years who drank consistent amounts of green tea were far less likely (76%) to die over the six-year research period.15
Weight LossClinical studies have shown that green tea may ‘boost metabolism and help burn fat’, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Other research found that the catechins, especially EGCG, may encourage weight loss in overweight and slightly obese people.16
CONCLUSIONGreen tea is packed with goodness; the kind of nutrients and compounds that may well help protect you against the onset of disease, in some cases life-threatening conditions. So why not make the decision right now to enjoy drinking it every day? Cheers, here’s to your health and long life.
A list of references is available from the Natural Medicine® office. Tel: 021 880 1444
Green tea – supplements or drinking the brew?According to science and health writer and researcher Benita Lee, ‘Based on research findings alone, catechins in green tea supplements seem to have the same (if not, higher) efficacy compared to catechins in brewed green tea. It’s also possible to achieve functionally equivalent amounts of catechins from brewed and capsule sources in one day.’1 Benita also says that pros and cons exist for both options:
SourceLee B. Green tea supplements vs drinking green tea. Labdoor Magazine. https://labdoor.com/article/green-tea-supplements-vs-drinking-green-teaTake home message: You may personally prefer to brew and drink your green tea or you may find taking a supplement suits you or your health care practitioner better; either way, make sure you are getting good quality products, read labels carefully, and consult your health practitioner before taking green tea if you are on medication for serious health conditions.
Natural Medicine editorial team.
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