For centuries, green tea has been used in Japanese and Chinese medicine practices and its popularity in the western world, especially United States, has soared in the past two decades.
Green tea has been referred to by many as a superfood because of its many benefits ranging from nutritious benefits to prevention of cancers, among many others. Green tea, just like black and oolong teas, is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinesis plant. It’s made using a steam-dry method. This means that the tea leaves are steamed and rolled before they dry, to prevent the leaves from fermenting, which needs to happen when making black tea. The richness of green tea in terms of antioxidants and nutrients has been attributed to this technique.
Although many studies have tried demonstrating green tea benefits, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) has advised that evidence is not yet conclusive and more green tea studies are required. The following article seeks to demonstrate some of the researched benefits of green tea which can be useful in complementing healthy diet practices and lifestyle.
1. Cardiovascular Health Benefits
According to many studies, green tea has been demonstrated to improve blood flow and to have cholesterol-lowering properties. Flavanoids contained in green tea slow down cholesterol breakdown which means lower cholesterol levels in blood vessels and lower formation of blood clots. This helps to prevent cardiovascular problems such as congestive heart failure and high blood pressure.
Increasing the intake of green tea to three cups a day could reduce heart attack risk by 43 percent and death, as a result of heart failure, could be reduced by as much as 70 percent. Chances of developing a subsequent heart attack are also lowered.
2. Prevents Cancer
The nutritious benefits of green tea are derived from Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a powerful antioxidant. It protects cells from malignant changes and is responsible for the elimination of free radicals from the bloodstream which can cause diseases like cancer.
Green tea has been shown to delay the onset of certain cancers because of its powerful antioxidant properties. These include breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer.
Polyphenols that are found in green tea are suspected to help in killing cancer cells, therefore preventing the progression of malignant conditions.
3. Helps Lose Weight
In controlled human trials, green tea has demonstrated the ability to boost metabolic rate and increase fat burning. One study demonstrated that green tea increased fat oxidation by 17 percent which, therefore demonstrated its ability to be a great weight loss aide.
Studies have also shown that caffeine generally improved physical performance, thanks to its ability to mobilize fatty acids from fat storages and availing the fatty acids as energy sources.
4. Musculoskeletal Benefits
Green tea contains anti-inflammatory properties which reduce the effects of arthritic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Quercetin, which is an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory compound found in green tea, has been shown to reduce pains and aches associated with arthritic conditions.
According to an Iowa Women’s Health Study, women who drank at least three cups of green tea daily were 60 percent less likely to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis when compared to those that didn’t drink green tea.
5. Lowers Blood Sugar
According to one study published in the Iranian Journal of Medical Sciences, when green tea was incorporated into the diets of patients with type 2 diabetes, resistance to insulin was reduced. This is because green tea contains phytochemicals which contain strong anti-oxidative function. Green tea also offers protection against rapid spikes and drops in blood sugar levels, which are associated with food cravings, irritability, and fatigue.
6. Boosts Memory & Brain Function
Caffeine found in green tea is a powerful stimulant. It works by blocking inhibitory transmitters to the brain which in turn allows for excitatory neurotransmitters, like dopamine, to increase their activity. This leads to memory, mood, and vigilance improvements.
In persons with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, green tea blocks the formation of plaques linked to the disease.
7. Can Help Asthma
Quercetin is an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory compound found in green tea which has been shown to prevent the release of inflammatory substances. The inflammatory substances from mast cells are responsible for allergic reactions such as asthma.
The flavonoids in green tea provide even more protection against inflammation and have been shown to keep sinus inflammations in check.
8. Prevents Skin Damage
Cancer prevention preliminary study revealed that mice that were exposed to Polyphenols in their drinking water had better repair of their skin cells following exposure to and damage by ultra violet rays.
Green tea can also be of help in the treatment of skin conditions like genital warts and eczema according to an article in the Journal of the German Society Dermatology published.
9. Reduces Anxiety
Green tea contains much smaller levels of caffeine compared to other types of teas and coffee which reduces chances of jitteriness and anxiety. EGCG also contains hypnotic and sedative effects that lower the body’s production of stress chemicals and reduce anxiety.
Green tea also contains L-theanine which has an anti-anxiety effect by increasing the activity of inhibitory neurotransmitters. The compound also reduces production of cortisol, a hormone that is produced in response to stress and has been linked to anxiety.
10. Oral Health Benefits
Some studies have found that green tea has been able to reduce bad bacteria in the oral cavity and therefore it helps fight against cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. Also, the antioxidant effect of green tea has been shown to reduce the chances of oral cancer in tobacco users.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
Kristina Pentchoukova contributed to this article