Green tea is a kind of tea that made from leaves of Camellia sinensis, which had undergone minimal oxidation during the manufacturing process. Green tea is believed to be originated from China and has been consumed throughout the ages in India, Japan and Thailand. In traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, practitioners used green tea as a diuretic to flush excess liquid from the body, heal wounds, and improve cardiovascular health.
Nowadays, green tea is not only popular in Eastern countries but also the West. Habit of drinking green tea has been shown to positively affect the body in many ways and inhibit the progression of some diseases.
The base for all of the green tea health benefits is in fact that they are extremely rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a type of catechin that acts as antioxidants to protect the body’s cells from free radical damage. Researchers believe that free radicals contribute to the aging process as well as the development of a number of health problems, including cancer and heart disease.
Antioxidants such as polyphenols in green tea can fight the free radicals and helps support overall health and immune system. The following are some health benefits of drinking green tea:
1. Fight Cancer
Green tea has been found to able to kill off cancer cells without harming healthy cells. Its strongest antioxidant, EGCG, is able to help kill cancer cells through destruction of the cells’ mitochondria, and may even become a possible alternative to the debilitating chemotherapy. Green tea consumption is believed to not be associated with any of chemo’s side effects, according to a recent study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.
One lab study done at the McGill University in Montreal found that the antioxidants in green tea could successfully shrink prostate tumors in mice. Another meta-analysis of data found that high green tea consumption could lower lung cancer risk by up to 18%.
2. Prevent Heart Disease
Green tea contains high amounts of flavonoids, antioxidants that protect against heart disease by slowing the breakdown of LDL cholesterol, preventing blood clots, and improving blood vessel function.
Large-scale studies done on green tea have associated it with long term heart disease prevention. A Japanese trial found that drinking at least four cups of green tea daily could lower the severity of heart disease in men.
In a study of 1,900 patients recovering from heart attacks at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, the death rate among patients who drank at least two cups of green tea a day was 44 percent lower than those non-green tea drinkers.
3. Reduce Stroke Risk
Drinking green tea on a regular basis is associated with a reduced risk of stroke. A study conducted by researchers on a total of 83,269 Japanese adults aged 45 to 74 years found that those who drank green tea regularly – at least four cups measuring six ounces per day – were about 20 to 30 percent less likely to experience a certain type of stroke compared to those who didn’t. The results have been published in Stroke: The Journal of the American Heart Association.
4. Control Blood Sugar Levels
Green tea has been used in traditional medicine to keep blood sugar levels stabilized. This may be due to the fact that it helps regulate glucose levels in the body, slowing the rise of blood sugar after eating.
One study in Japanese individuals found that those who consumed the most green tea had a 42% lower risk of developing type II diabetes. According to a review of 7 studies with a total of 286,701 individuals, green tea drinkers had an 18% lower risk of becoming diabetic.
5. Weight Loss
Several studies have showed that the flavonoids and caffeine in green tea can increase metabolic rate which may lead to weight loss. One study suggested that those who consumed green tea lost an average of 2.9 pounds during a 12-week period, while sticking to their regular diet.
6. Combat Allergies
Green tea is packed with a powerful antioxidant phytonutrient called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that blocks the production of histamine and immunoglobulin E (IgE). Both of these compounds are known to trigger allergy symptoms. Quercetin, a naturally occurring flavonols in green tea, can also alleviate a histamine response.
7. Promotes Healthy Gums And Teeth
Drinking tea has been given a bad reputation for its staining effect on your teeth. The hot beverage contains tannic acid, which is what gives tea its dark-like color. However, the consumption of green tea can actually be beneficial when it comes to your oral health.
A 2009 study published in the Journal of Periodontology found that regular intake of green tea has been associated with a decreased risk of periodontal disease.
Green tea’s ability to help reduce periodontal disease risk may be due to the presence of the antioxidant catechin. Previous research has demonstrated the antioxidant ability to reduce inflammation in the body. Research suggest that the existence of an inflammatory response to periodontal bacteria in the mouth. By interfering with the body’s inflammatory response to periodontal bacteria, green tea may actually help ward off periodontal disease and promote oral health.
8. Prevent Osteoporosis
Green and black tea’s leaves contain polyphenols that can ease cellular inflammation that can degenerate bone tissue. In a study conducted by Osteoporosis International researchers found that participants who drank 1-4 cups of black or green tea per day decreased their risk of hip fracture by 37 percent. In a similar study conducted by Mediterranean Osteoporosis found that both men and women over the age of 50 who drank tea every day did reduce their risk of osteoporosis by 30 percent.
9. Boosts Eyesight
Drinking green tea may improve your eyes health. Catechins, an antioxidant in green tea, are capable of being absorbed into the tissues of the eye, helping to protect it against eye diseases.
A 2001 study published in the journal Experimental Eye Research found green tea can actually prevent cataract-induced blindness. Researchers saw different parts of the eye absorbed varying amounts of catechins, with the highest concentration of this antioxidant found in the retina of lab rats fed green tea extract. The area with the least absorption of catechins was the cornea. These findings suggest that drinking green tea could serve as a protective measure when it comes to eyesight, but its effects have yet to be confirmed in humans.
10. Strengthens the Immune System
Green tea contains polyphenols, potent plant antioxidants, which are believed to give green tea its immune-boosting effects. One laboratory study suggested that a particular type of polyphenols called catechins may kill influenza viruses. However, don’t add milk to your green tea because the protein in milk will adhere to the polyphenols, making them ineffective.
11. Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
The green tea molecule epigallocatechin-3-gallate, also known as EGCG, has been found can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and promote brain health in general.
Researchers at the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center discovered that the flavonoid ECGC in green tea could bind to the the beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that are believed to cause Alzheimer’s disease.
12. Relieve Arthritis Pain
Green tea may also help in treating arthritis pain. A study conducted by University of Michigan researchers indicated that antioxidants found in green tea, known as EGCG may block two potent molecules that cause the bone breakdown in rheumatoid arthritis-affected joints. They also found that EGCG also blocked production prostaglandin E2, which causes joint inflammation.
13. Treat Acne
The EGCG in green tea is well known for its antioxidant properties and so it may be beneficial in the treatment of acne to help reduce inflammation and stop pro-inflammatory responses.
Apart from high levels of polyphenols, green tea also contains large amounts of tannic acid that may reduce skin inflammation and swelling associated with acne. Green tea may also control oil production that contributes to clogged pores.
When buying green tea, go for the organic ones when you can, and store the tea in a dark, dry place. Don’t store it in the refrigerator as that can introduce moisture and food odor to the tea.