Green tea is the healthiest beverage on the planet with its health benefits of tea observed since the first infusions of the tea plant 4700 years ago.
Of course, no one thing you drink or eat is going to counteract smoking, lack or exercise or a terrible diet – but sipping on this traditional Chinese beverage is an excellent choice for health and here are the top reasons why.
The #1 benefit of green tea
The thing that really makes green tea stand apart from other teas is the high catechin content. Catechin is a natural plant compound or polyphenol and along with flavanoids, tanins, theflavins and other compounds, are present in nearly all teas. The level of these antioxidants does vary widely, however, between species, climatic conditions and seasons.
Of all the catechins in tea, EGCG is the one that has been most studied for its health benefits. It’s content is much higher in green tea than other varieties because of the low oxidizing in the tea making process. EGCG is a powerful antioxidant reducing free radicals in the body.
Some of the catechin benefit will be damaged when green tea is made with boiling water, so brew your green leaves with hot, not boiling, water.
Green tea is good for the heart
Studies show that green tea may reduce the risk of the biggest risk factors of heart disease and stroke. The catechin compounds in green tea are said to lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and are beneficial to arterial health.
While there is a possible link to drinking green tea and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, the addition of milk to the tea blunts these artery-relaxing effects so drink it green.
Green tea is a fantastic pick-me-up
Green tea contains caffeine, and in fact, the dried leaves contain more caffeine than the equivalent weight of dried coffee – however, by the time each are brewed in a typical cup, the cup of green tea will contain significantly less caffeine. Enough for a pick-me-up but not sufficient for the jitters or an afternoon cup to keeping you up all night.
Caffeine has been intensively studied and has been found to lead to improved concentration, memory, mood, vigilance, reaction time and focus.
As an added bonus, the amino acid L-theanine is also present in green tea and has a synergistic effect with caffeine. In combination the two compounds really boost brain function.
What’s good for the heart is good for the brain
Not only is green tea great for short term brain function, but it might be beneficial for the two most common age-related neurodegenerative diseases, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Multiple studies suggest that the catechin compounds in green tea might block the formation of plaque that is believed to lead to Alzheimer’s and protect our neurons, potentially reducing the risk of Parkinson’s.
This potential protective effect has been found to be stronger in women than in men.
Green tea can kill bacteria and inhibit some viruses
The catechins in green tea have another biological benefit. Green tea has been found to kill bacteria and inhibit viruses. This could lead to improved dental health, potentially lowering the risk of infection and reducing bad breath.
What about weight loss?
Unfortunately there is nothing you can eat or drink that will magically melt away pounds. Green tea has been shown to slightly boost our metabolism – although in real terms that probably means burning about an additional 70 calories a day so it’s not going to have a huge affect on weight without making some other dietary and lifestyle changes.
Where green tea may be of great benefit to someone who is trying to cut calories is it’s a smart swap for highly calorific sodas, sweet teas and syrupy coffees. Cutting a can of soda a day could cut 50,000 calories in a year – and that’s going to make a huge difference to both weight and overall health.
Studies have shown a link between stress and a poor diet and lifestyle choices. Learning how to rest is critical to our health. The L-theanine in green tea is said to have a calming effect and can be taken in pill form as a natural support for sleep and mood.
A more immediate benefit is taking the time to step away from the computer and take a tea break! I’m going to put the kettle on now!
The quality and nutrient levels in different green teas can vary widely. Camellia sinensis (tea bushes) love to absorb their environment so it’s important to look for organic tea so you’re not drinking pesticides. My recommendation is Zealong organic green tea, which is a premium award winning tea. The biodegradable bags are free of synthetic fibers, glues and bleaches. Healthier for you and for the planet. Zealong green tea is available here from Amazon.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is for general information purposes only and does not constitute, nor does it intend to constitute medical diagnosis or treatment or other professional advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regime.