Green tea is an organic drink preferred by many health enthusiasts over the world. Because of its numerous green tea health benefits, it is considered by many as the “healthiest beverage on the planet”. Known as a powerful source of antioxidants, it helps prevent diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and many others. This article will discuss green tea’s many qualities that contribute to overall good health.
Is Green Tea Good For You?
In a nutshell, yes, green tea is good for you. It has proven health benefits coming from bioactive compounds and nutrients that nourish the body in many ways.
Aside from this, the effects of green tea include faster weight loss, sharper brain function and improved well-being.
Here are some basic facts you should know:
Facts About Green Tea
Here are some fast facts you should know about this healthy beverage:
- Green tea has been used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine. Both of these cultures are known to have potent healing abilities for the past thousands of years. Ancient Indian and Chinese practitioners are among the first to tap into the myriad health benefits of green tea.
- Green tea is a more effective antioxidant compared to black tea. Although both green and black tea are made from the leaves of the same Camellia sinensis plant, green tea goes through less oxidation. This ‘behavior’ continues even when consumed by the body. Lesser oxidation means lesser stress on the body and its key processes.
- The slight bitter taste in green tea doesn’t come from caffeine. Although the beverage contains a little bit of caffeine, it’s slightly bitter flavour comes from Tannins, a substance with powerful antioxidant properties.
- It used to be a beverage only for royalty and the rich. Because of the positive health effects of green tea and its complicated manual brewing process in the past, it used to be available only to rich and royal families between the 3rd and 6th century BC. The beverage was made available for public consumption only after newer methods of mass production and distribution were invented.
Origins Of Green Tea and How It is Processed
Contrary to what others believe, green tea originated in China, not Japan.
There are various legends that abound as to how green tea was discovered. Some believe that Emperor Shennong discovered it when tea leaves accidentally mixed into his water during a windy weather. There are different versions to this story, but the general belief is that the beverage was discovered during 2737 BC during the same emperor’s reign.
Regardless of how green tea originated, the world has eventually come to realize its ability to boost health and wellness.
The secret behind green tea benefits is the way it is processed:
- First, farmers pluck the first harvest of Camellia Sinensis leaves, which comes around early to mid-spring. Many experts believe that the first flush (harvest) has the highest quality of tea leaves, as it contains higher concentrations of tea’s healthy substances.
- Next, the tea leaves are immediately steamed and roasted after being freshly picked. This is a very important stage in the making of green tea. By processing the leaves immediately, oxidation and fermentation is prevented. Thus, more organic properties are preserved, leaving the beverage with a green tint. This is not the case with black tea, which is left to ferment and oxidize for a longer period for better flavour (but less health benefits).
It has been said that only about 20% of the world’s tea is green. This is because as tea gained more popularity in various cultures, black tea (mixed with sugar and milk) has become the mainstream choice among drinkers who consume it only for its taste. But for those who are more concerned about the heath benefits, green tea with minimal sugar or no sugar at all, is hands down the better choice.
Now let’s talk about the various health benefits of green tea in detail:
Health Benefits of Green Tea
Throughout this article, we have been talking about how healthy green tea is, as well as its various antioxidant properties. But most people don’t realize the little-known health benefits of this beverage. Let’s go through them one by one:
Green Tea And Weight Loss
Regular drinkers of green tea were able to burn an average of 70 to 100 calories per day. This is a huge calorie burning amount, considering that it takes an average of 3,000 steps (30 to 45 minutes of walking) to burn 100 calories.
By drinking a recommended amount of 24 oz. green tea per day, you can lose that same amount of calories without strenuous activity. Just make sure that you don’t add sugar to your tea to keep it a zero-calorie drink. If you want some taste of sweetness, you may add a natural sweetener to the beverage, such as honey.
To drink green tea for weight loss, generally it is much more advisable to take it without sugar.
The reason why green tea burns so much calories is because it helps speed up metabolism. It contains polyphenols and ECGC (also known as catechins), which speed up the breakdown of stored carbohydrates for energy.
Polyphenols help weight loss by significantly increasing energy expenditure. Along with a healthy diet, green tea consumption can make you feel more energetic while accelerating fat loss at the same time. This is one of the most outstanding green tea benefits for weight loss.
Just keep in mind that drinking green tea alone won’t make you lose weight, but it will give you a good head start. You have to supplement it with a healthy diet and a consistent exercise program to experience long term.
Green Tea Benefits For Skin
You can enjoy the benefits of green tea for skin, either by drinking it or applying it topically Yes, you read it right. Green tea can be applied directly your skin to enjoy its positive effects.
Green tea helps improve the skin by promoting DNA repair, leading to faster recovery from damage as well as skin cancer prevention. This same DNA repair capabilities can help slow down the effects of aging on the skin, leaving you wrinkle-free for many years or even decades.
Remember the polyphenols we talked about in the previous section that help speed up weight loss? These same polyphenols have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce irritation, swelling and redness on the skin!
More about polyphenols found in green tea: they help fight acne as well. This is because they have antibacterial and antimicrobial characteristics that relieve inflammation on skin that is damaged by acne. Green tea can do wonders whether you apply it on the face, or whether you ingest. It fights systemic bacterial infection too.
On top of all these, green tea contains a lot of Vitamin B2 and Vitamin E, both of which are essential for skin health maintenance. B2 basically helps maintain collagen levels on your skin, while Vitamin E promotes new skin cell growth.
Green Tea Benefits For Hair
Hair loss is a growing problem among many men and women all over the world. Ironically, many turn to expensive hair treatments and medications which end up causing more hair loss.
It is a much better option to prevent hair loss than cure it. In this aspect, green tea helps by limiting the conditions that trigger the loss of hair.
Studies show that natural hair loss is sometimes caused by two hormones, testosterone and dihydrotestosterone. These two hormones decrease the hair growth phase in an individual over time.
Meanwhile, green tea contains a substance called ECGC which limit the effects of the above hormones on hair. In turn, natural hair loss is slowed down.
However, hair loss prevention is not the only thing that green tea can do. It also promotes hair growth. So if you have already suffered from loss of hair, it is possible for green tea to reverse that in many cases, giving you a regrowth.
The same ECGC (found in green tea) stimulates hair follicles, making it more likely to regrow lost hair. Although more scientific studies are needed in this area, the effects of ECGC on potential hair regrowth are well documented.
Green Tea Benefits For Men
In a recent study published by NHS UK, experts found that green tea consumption helped slow down the progression of prostate cancer.
Not only that, numerous other studies have shown that regular consumption of green tea have correlated to a lesser risk of getting prostate cancer in men.
The antioxidants found in green tea significantly reduced the amount of prostate specific antigen in the body, a major marker of prostate cancer in the body.
Moreover, after studying a massive group of 49,920 men for 10 years, men who consumed green tea daily reduced the likelihood of getting prostate cancer compared to those who avoided the beverage.
Some scientists believe that green tea fights prostate cancer by causing a process called apoptosis, also known as cancer cell suicide.
Aside from prostate cancer prevention, green tea helps men improve their sexual health as well. Because it helps promote better blood circulation throughout the entire body, green tea prevents erectile dysfunction caused by poor blood flow to a man’s genitalia.
For men who drink alcohol, the polyphenols found in green tea helps prevent liver damage. That being said, it is still best to avoid drinking alcohol to enjoy the full health benefits of green tea.
Lowers Heart Disease Risk
Another study published by the Harvard Health Edu website showed that regular drinkers of green tea had a 26% lower risk of dying from heart disease or stroke, and 16% lower risk of death from all causes.
Those are huge percentages, considering that the study monitored a total number of 40,530 Japanese adults. It just goes on to show how green tea impacts cardiovascular health in a big way.
First, the ‘world’s most healthy beverage’ thwarts heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol in the body. LDL cholesterol has been labelled as the ‘bad cholesterol’ that causes plaque buildup on the walls of the blood vessels. Too much plaque build-up can result in a condition known as atheriosclerosis, or a narrowing of the arteries. This is a precursor for heart attacks (also known as coronary heart disease).
The antioxidants in green tea are responsible for lowering the bad cholesterol in the body. If consumed without sugar, green tea is a zero calorie drink, which makes it easier for anyone who wants to lose weight for a healthier heart.
Green tea is also beneficial for those who have chronic blood pressure because it does not contain as much caffeine as coffee or black tea.
Better Memory and Brain Function
Want to sharpen your memory and improve brain functions? A Swiss study showed that Magnetic Resonance Imaging of people who drank green tea showed greater concentration of activity in the working-memory area of the brain.
And because the antioxidants in green tea help reduce or prevent plaque build-up in the body, it also prevents relevant neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia as we age.
The brain functions are influenced to some extent by the levels of inflammation in the body. Having a high carbohydrate diet rich in added sugar and processed foods can cause a lot of inflammation which could impact mental health, concentration, and sharpness in thinking.
By swapping sugary drinks with non-sugared green tea, you can save up to 50,000 calories per year! This is a lot of calories saved and can massively impact your overall metabolism, weight, fitness, and even brain function in a positive way.
We previously discussed how green tea can help prevent prostate cancer in men, but it’s also good for preventing other types of cancer as well (especially liver and colorectal cancer).
Green tea prevents cancer by limiting carcinogen-induced DNA damage to cells. It also inhibits tumor development at different organs in the body.
With so much carcinogens and harmful substances circulating in the environment nowadays, it is very important to limit their effects on the body. Damage from these external substances should be reduced at all costs to reduce the risk of cancer.
How To Drink Green Tea
To enjoy green tea, there are some things you need to keep in mind. These will help you get the most out of its health benefits:
- Drink organic green tea. Because of its popularity nowadays, green tea is available in artificial flavours as well. When drinking, make sure you are taking organic green tea that went through the natural process of harvesting, steaming, drying, and brewing. Obviously, artificially flavoured tea does little or nothing for your health.
- Best take it without sugar. Sugar can do more harm than good for your tea. Not only does it cause a major spike in your insulin levels, but sugar also makes you addicted to sweets. The calories you save by drinking green tea are instantly offset by the calories found in the sugar. It’s more like one step forward, two steps back. So if you want to make strides with your health, it’s best to avoid putting sugar in your tea as much as possible.
How To Make Green Tea
The important thing to keep in mind when preparing green tea is to brew it properly. Many green tea enthusiasts prefer to brew loose tea leaves instead of tea bags, which potentially contain preservatives (especially if marketed publicly in supermarkets).
Try to buy loose tea leaves from natural health stores instead. Put 3 grams of tea leaves for every 8 ounces water. Boil this in a teapot until it simmers. Avoid extended heating or boiling as this could kill the natural properties and enzymes found in the tea leaves.
Green Tea Benefits and Disadvantages
We have proven that this beverage has lots of health benefits. But the question you are probably asking is, are there green tea side effects as well?
Let’s discuss the pros and cons of green tea consumption below. These ‘disadvantages’ are very minimal compared to the benefits:
- Green tea still has some caffeine. If you’re trying to avoid caffeine altogether due to sleep problems, high blood pressure, or other conditions, you should know that green tea is not totally caffeine-free. However, green tea caffeine amount is very small compared to the amounts found in coffee and black tea. It contains 25 milligrams of caffeine for every 8 ounces served. While this amount will not cause the same “jolt and kick” you experience with coffee, it may cause you to stay a bit late at night if you take it later in the day. So, if you have a low tolerance for caffeine, try drinking green tea in the daytime.
- Green tea aggravates an upset stomach in some people. Green tea has mild laxative properties, meaning, it can loosen your stools, give you feelings of a rambling stomach, and even lead to diarrhea in some cases. The good news is, if you’re constipated, green tea can help loosen things up and make your trip to the comfort room more productive.
- There is a slight risk of iron deficiency. The anti-oxidants found in the beverage can sometimes hinder the iron absorption in the body, leading to iron deficiency anemia. However, this only happens in rare cases of extreme green tea intake. For example, one 48-year-old businessman suffered from anemia after consuming 6 cups of green tea every single day for 7 years. It appears that everything in excess can still be harmful after all. Keep your intake within reasonable levels and you should be fine.
Is Flavoured Green Tea Healthy?
The answer is, it depends on the flavour! There are some elements that you can add to your green tea to pack it further with health benefits and also to enhance its taste as well. Here are some suggestions:
Green Tea With Lemon
The catechins in green tea (ECGC and polythenols) are very potent for overall health improvement, but the bad news is that they aren’t efficiently absorbed by the intestines. After digestion, only about 20% of the catechins remain intact for the body to absorb. The rest are either excreted by the body or lost somewhere during the chemical processes during digestion.
However, studies conducted by the Purdue University has shown that adding lemon juice to green tea caused a significant increase in the absorption of catechins. The benefits of green tea with lemon include a higher absorption of catechins (as much as 80% retention) and thus a lesser need for larger quantities of green tea consumption!
Jasmine Green Tea
This is green tea mixed with the aromatic scent of Jasmine blossoms. Adding jasmine aroma to your tea can enhance its flavour and give you a delightful, relaxing experience. Many people who are not yet suited to the taste of plain green tea can try taking it with jasmine.
Jasmine tea benefits includes a reduced risk of heart attack, cancer prevention, and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
Mint Green Tea
Adding mint to your green tea can give it a soothing flavour that can be useful when you’re dealing with sore throat, asthma, cough, and upper respiratory tract infection. Mint flavour can also provide a calming effect to your digestive tract.
Best Green Tea For Weight Loss UK
Because tea drinking is part of popular culture in the UK, you’ll find that there are dozens of green tea brands available out there in the market.
When choosing a tea brand or supplier, it is important to know how the tea leaves are grown. Those that are grown in humid surroundings at high altitudes tend to be of the highest quality. Ideally, they should have been packed within 2 hours from harvest to prevent fermentation.
Try to avoid packaged tea leaves which contain artificial colouring. There are some tea bags which contain fermented tea leaves but with some added artificial green colouring on them. Avoid those by sticking to 100% organic brands and doing your shopping research beforehand.