What Are The Health Benefits Of Green Tea? The many well-researched health benefits of green tea make it a great drink to add to your diet for preventing and treating cancer, heart problems, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, rheumatoid arthritis, infections, tooth decay, and many others. Green tea contains an antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has chemopreventive properties.
What Exactly is Green Tea?
Unknown, green tea comes from the same plant that normal tea is made from. Scientifically it is known as Camellia sinensis. In fact, it’s the same tea, but it’s processed differently. This fermentation changes its color and aroma while increasing the caffeine and tannin levels. On the other hand, in the case of green tea, freshly harvested leaves are steamed quickly to prevent fermentation, resulting in a dry, stable product. During this steaming process, the color of the leaves is not disturbed, so the tea retains its green color.
Nutritional Values: What Does Green Tea Contain?
In addition to caffeine, which gives green tea its characteristic taste, bitterness and stimulating effect, green tea also contains a number of polyphenols that are found in plants as phytochemicals. The main green tea polyphenols include flavonoids known as catechins, such as epicatechin, epicatechin gallate (EKG), and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). These flavonoids are very powerful antioxidants and together with some amino acids like thiamine are responsible for the strong taste of green tea.
Green tea also contains amino acids such as;
- Xanthine alkaloids such as adenine
- Theophylline and xanthine.
Carbohydrates such as;
- Pectin (also found in fruits) as well as glucose
- Sucrose and fructose.
Pigments such as;
- Chlorophyll and Triterpene Saponins.
Vitamins like vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, and E are also found in green tea. This is an impressive list of beneficial nutrients not to be missed.
Health Benefits of Green Tea:
The health benefits of green tea are largely due to its antioxidant properties, which stem from its caffeine, catechins, and thine content. The main health benefits that result from the antioxidant content are listed below.
1. Delays the Aging Process:
The free radicals generated in the body are responsible for corrosion of the body in a number of ways, one of which we view as a sign of aging and its associated symptoms. Green tea, rich in antioxidants, neutralizes the oxidants or free radicals present in the body. The catechins it contains are known for their strong antioxidant effects, with the epigallocatechin gallate being the strongest among them. Hence, regular consumption of this tea can be effective in delaying the signs and symptoms of aging.
2. Has a Stimulating Effect:
One of the main reasons for the popularity and consumption of tea of all kinds by human civilization is its stimulant effect. This effect is in turn due to the caffeine and tannins in the tea leaves. Caffeine and tannins act as very powerful stimulants in the long run, despite their potentially negative health effects. That is why you will feel fresh and full of energy with a cup of tea.
Tea is a simple and ideal solution to counteract tiredness, laziness, drowsiness and lack of energy and to improve blood circulation. This is why it’s so popular with a wide variety of people in different industries including professionals, housewives, students, and anyone else who has ever felt a little sleepy during the day!
3. Improves the Immune System:
Research shows that people who drink green tea regularly are less likely to fall victim to frequent bacterial and viral infections than those who do not add it to their diet. It strengthens the immune system. The catechins contained in green tea prevent bacteria and viruses from attaching to the cell walls in order to infect them. These catechins also counteract the toxins released by microbes.
This is another strong green tea benefit. Astringents cause contractions in muscles and tissues while tightening muscles and skin. Even if you don’t want to drink this tea, a simple, daily mouthwash can cause your gums to contract enough to keep the teeth tight and firm, thereby preventing tooth loosening and tooth loss. You can also wash your hair with green tea and feel how it gets stronger and healthier every day.
5. Prevents Cancer:
A research study by Kazue Imai Litt. D. showed that green tea has anti-cancer properties. According to the National Cancer Institute, green tea is high in polyphenols like epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which help eliminate free radicals and can kill cancer cells.
Free radicals not only cause premature aging, but also certain types of cancer. The catechins found in green tea can help neutralize these free radicals, prevent the formation of carcinogens like nitrosamines, and lower the risk of cancer.
- Breast Cancer: According to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, there is no clear link between green tea consumption and the risk of breast cancer.
- Prostate Cancer: Another study by Kurahashi N. suggests that consumption of green tea lowers the risk of advanced prostate cancer in Japanese men.
- Colon Cancer: The results of one study showed an inverse association between the risk of colon cancer and green tea consumption.
In addition, more clinical evidence and extensive studies are needed to support the use of this polyphenol-rich tea as a preventative measure against cancer.
6. Reduces The Cholesterol Level:
Studies show that green tea significantly lowers LDL cholesterol (low density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol) levels. Green tea lowers cholesterol to some extent, likely due to its alkalinity.
7. Improves Heart and Artery Health:
Certain components in green tea can also lower blood pressure and lower the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease.
8. Prevent Diabetes:
When not taken with sugar, the alkaline nature of green tea helps lower blood sugar levels. In addition, the antioxidant and astringent properties of green tea ensure good health and better functioning of the pancreas. Improving the function of the pancreas means a more efficient and regulated secretion of insulin and the subsequent improvement in the breakdown and absorption of sugar. This increase in effective functions can help prevent diabetes from occurring .
Studies have shown that EGCG in green tea can inhibit the development of diabetes. However, to be effective, green tea consumption is high enough to raise concerns about side effects. Hence, it is important to consider the amount of green tea that will be consumed in a day.
9. Helps You Lose Weight:
Believe it or not, green tea also helps people lose weight by increasing the metabolic rate, thus promoting faster consumption of the body’s fat storage. Recently, green tea has replaced many other beverages as it helps with weight loss. Have a cup or two of green tea every morning and you are sure to lose a few pounds in excess weight in a week .
10. Increases Stamina and Endurance:
After a strenuous workout, treat yourself to a cup of hot green tea and you are ready for a few more sets. In addition, it effectively counteracts muscle pain caused by overexertion of the muscles. Although green tea is not widely available in the market due to the presence of energy drinks, if you visit Japan and China you will find that green tea is the most popular drink used by martial arts and various other sports.
11. Detoxifies The Body:
Green tea is the best cure for particularly bad hangovers and fatigue caused by alcohol consumption and lack of sleep. Counteract the hangover symptoms with a large cup of green tea with lemon. Green tea with lemon juice is a very good and popular way to get rid of the stressful effects of alcohol almost instantly.
Types of Green Tea:
Green tea is prepared in Japan in four main types, which depend on the length of the leaf, the processing method and the time of harvest. These are as follows:
- Gyokuro: With this variety, the tea leaves are picked from the tip of the branches. When brewed, the color is clear green. This variety is picked from the top and has the best taste and smell, and this variety is also considered to be the best in terms of health. In addition, it is less bitter as it contains less tannin and caffeine as the leaves picked are younger and still budding. The only downside to Gyokuro is its high cost, but as we all know, really high quality health solutions are never cheap!
- Sencha: Sencha comes from the same plant, but in this variant of green tea, the leaves come from the center of the branch and are larger, older and less tender than Gyokuro. This variety makes a clear, light green tea even when brewed. Of course, it’s more bitter and stronger than the Gyokuro variety. Because it is of less noble origin (in the middle of the branch) and has more caffeine and tannin in it, it is cheaper and more popular than Gyokuro.
- Bancha: Bancha is made from the delicate branches of the tea plant, which makes it very strong and bitter. When brewed, a golden brown tea is created. This is an even cheaper version of green tea than the previous two.
- Matcha: This is the leftover green tea powder, also called “dust”. It makes a beautifully green colored tea and creates a lot of foam, but has a weaker aroma than the leafy varieties. This type of green tea is very popular in traditional ceremonies and is sometimes referred to as ceremonial green tea. It’s far less bitter than the other three types. So when you take a sip of it, it seems to have a natural sweetness, especially if you are familiar with the other strains.
- Houjicha: Also written as “Hojicha”, this is not a pure or absolute green tea. Rather, it is a mixture of green tea and roasted grains in powder form such as wheat, barley or rice. The quality and price of this variety depend on the percentage or ratio of green tea to cereals. The better ones, which contain more green tea, are more expensive and look greener when brewed. On the other hand, those with higher grain contents give a golden brown color and are cheaper.
- Genmaicha: Like Houjicha, this is not pure tea either. It’s a mix of green tea and roasted brown rice. Soaking gives a golden yellow tea, which is very pleasant in both taste and aroma due to the presence of roasted brown rice.
- Decaffeinated Green Tea: This isn’t a specific variety, but it’s worth a mention here. Any of the above varieties can be in decaffeinated form.
- Other varieties: The main varieties mentioned above are mixed in various combinations to create many more varieties with different names, the number of which makes it pointless to list here. Basically, go to a tea shop and find out for yourself!
The risks associated with green tea are the same as any other type of tea (common black tea, white tea, etc.) and are mainly based on the caffeine and tannin levels. The contraindications can vary depending on the caffeine and tannin levels. Most people are familiar with these adversities, but it is important to review and summarize the responsible components and the risks involved.
- Saponins: These compounds destroy red blood cells (erythrocytes) which can exacerbate previous illnesses from anemia and fatigue.
- Caffeine: Everyone knows that caffeine is an external stimulant, increases blood pressure, and is toxic in nature (it can be fatal to some animals). Caffeine is also addicting and can have adverse effects on the liver and internal organs for many years. Other than that, it is the component of tea that makes it energizing and refreshing, which is why people are willing to risk it.
- Tannins: Tannins interfere with the breakdown of complex proteins into simpler proteins and their subsequent absorption into the body.
- Xanthine: Some researchers believe that these alkaloids may increase and stimulate the production of uric acid in the body, thereby triggering and supporting the formation of stones in the gallbladder and kidneys.
- Other risks: Long-term consumption in large quantities can lead to problems such as:
- High blood Pressure
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Loss of Appetite
- Constipation and acute addiction to caffein. Often times, people who are addicted to caffeine do not feel normal without the substance and suffer from acute constipation, irritation and poor concentration when there is no green tea.