Green tea has long been touted as a health superfood. For centuries, it has been used medicinally to treat various ailments, dating back as far as 2700 BC. There is a growing body of evidence confirming the health benefits of regular green tea consumption, and in this article, we will review each of them.
Compounds that make Green Tea Special
Green tea contains a powerful combination of healthful compounds that make it special. It contains polyphenols, which are plant-based compounds that have a positive impact on health outcomes.
There are many different types of polyphenols, including flavanols, flavandiol, flavonoids, and phenolic acids, which are all present in green tea. Polyphenols can account for up to one-third of the dry weight of the tea. For this reason, green tea can be considered a superfood.
The most prominent type of green tea polyphenols found in green tea is Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which is a type of flavonol. Catechins have been studied in-depth, and are responsible for many of the health benefits associated with green tea. Catechins function as an antioxidant and bring the same protective health benefits as other antioxidants.
Green tea also contains a small amount of caffeine. One cup contains approximately 30 – 50 mg of caffeine. This gives you a small, energizing dose, without overwhelming your body with several hundred milligrams of caffeine, the way coffee would.
Too much caffeine can cause dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, and headaches. With green tea, it is unlikely that you will experience these undesirable side effects, as the caffeine dose is fairly small.
Green Tea for Health: The Benefits
The health benefits of green tea are plentiful, and we are going to talk about each category in depth. When we speak about the benefits of regular consumption, quantitatively, we mean having 1 or more cups of green tea daily, over the course of several weeks. Consistent consumption is the key to noticeable positive health outcomes.
Here are some of the many evidence-based ways in which green tea is beneficial for health:
Antioxidants Protect Against Cancer
Green teas have an exceptionally high content of antioxidants. There are many different types of antioxidants, but the presence of the natural catechin antioxidants is what makes green tea special. This is the powerful compound that gives green tea its status as a healthy beverage.
These powerful catechin antioxidants protect the body from cell damage and free radicals. This extra protection reduces the risk of developing cancerous and pre-cancerous cells. Regular catechin intake has also been shown to have positive effects on healthy skin aging.(2)
Enhance Brain Functioning
The caffeine content of green tea allows for enhanced mood, faster reaction time, and improved memory. In addition, green tea contains an important amino acid, L-theanine, which helps to reduce anxiety, and provides a stabilizing dose of energy.
Caffeine and L-theanine work together to provide a balanced and long-lasting effect. Many users report preferring the effects of green tea over that of caffeine alone. (3,4,5)
Promotes Oral Health
In addition to protecting against free radical damage, those powerful catechin antioxidants can also protect your mouth and teeth. The catechins help to inhibit the oral bacteria growth that is responsible for bad breath.
Additionally, the antioxidants help reduce the risk of developing an infection, and may potentially reduce the incidences of cavities and gum disease. Another benefit of green tea is that it is far less likely to stain your teeth (or clothes) the way coffee does. (6, 7)
May Prevent Diabetes
Type II diabetes is a fairly common outcome of the aging process these days, especially for those who are pre-disposed to the condition. As we age, our bodies tend to be less sensitive to insulin.
This results in increased blood sugar values, and can eventually lead to the development of diabetes, and insulin resistance. Green tea has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, leading to a decrease in blood glucose, and ultimately reducing the risk of developing diabetes.(8)
May Prevent Cardiovascular Diseases
Research shows that regular green tea consumption has been shown to have a potentially protective cardiovascular effect. This is achieved by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol while protecting HDL (good) cholesterol from oxidation.
Green tea is one of the best drinks to lower cholesterol. The powerful mix of antioxidants in green tea, especially catechins, is responsible for lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol. (9,10,11)
Besides, emerging scientific evidence suggests that caffeine consumption can decrease your risk of a heart attack and stroke.
Promotes Weight Loss
Green tea, and its unique formulation, has the ability to rapidly increase fat burning, and promote weight loss. Studies show that regular green tea consumption can result in a reduction of abdominal fat and waist circumference.
This increase in metabolism can also result in a boost in overall physical performance. Individual results will vary, as every individual will respond to weight loss differently, but the study results are promising! (12, 13)
We know that green tea contains a powerful dose of antioxidants, and emerging scientific evidence suggests that those antioxidants may play a big role in reducing inflammation within the body.
The polyphenols present in the tea fight oxidative damage and reduce swelling. It is for this reason that green tea is often recommended to those suffering from inflammatory-based ailments and diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and liver diseases. (14)
Green Tea Supports Overall Health
Overall, there are many health benefits to regular green tea consumption. This all-natural, easily available, inexpensive, and convenient product serves as a powerful superfood for anyone who consumes it regularly.
It can promote heart health and weight loss, protect against cardiovascular disease, and reduce inflammation. If you aren’t already making green tea a part of your daily diet, it might be worth giving it a shot!
Green tea has the potential to address many of the health concerns commonly associated with aging. New and emerging scientific research confirms the age-old routine of using green tea medicinally. The potential benefits are plentiful, and the risk of side effects is next to none.
Now you have many reasons to drink green tea every day. While choosing green tea, go for organic green tea to get the most health benefits.
- Dattner, Christine; Boussabba, Sophie (2003). Emmanuelle Javelle (ed.). The Book of Green Tea. Universe Books. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-7893-0853-5.
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- Ruxton, C. H. S. (2008). The impact of caffeine on mood, cognitive function, performance and hydration: a review of benefits and risks. Nutrition Bulletin, 33(1), 15–25. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-3010.2007.00665.x
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- Nathan, P. J., Lu, K., Gray, M., & Oliver, C. (2006). The Neuropharmacology of L-Theanine(N-Ethyl-L-Glutamine). Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy, 6(2), 21–30. https://doi.org/10.1080/j157v06n02_02
- LODHIA, P., YAEGAKI, K., KHAKBAZNEJAD, A., IMAI, T., SATO, T., TANAKA, T., MURATA, T., & KAMODA, T. (2008). Effect of Green Tea on Volatile Sulfur Compounds in Mouth Air. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, 54(1), 89–94. https://doi.org/10.3177/jnsv.54.89
- Steinmann, J., Buer, J., Pietschmann, T., & Steinmann, E. (2013). Anti-infective properties of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a component of green tea. British Journal of Pharmacology, 168(5), 1059–1073. https://doi.org/10.1111/bph.12009
- Liu, K., Zhou, R., Wang, B., Chen, K., Shi, L. Y., Zhu, J. D., & Mi, M. T. (2013). Effect of green tea on glucose control and insulin sensitivity: a meta-analysis of 17 randomized controlled trials. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 98(2), 340–348. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.112.052746
- Wu, J. N., Ho, S. C., Zhou, C., Ling, W. H., Chen, W. Q., Wang, C. L., & Chen, Y. M. (2009). Coffee consumption and risk of coronary heart diseases: A meta-analysis of 21 prospective cohort studies. International Journal of Cardiology, 137(3), 216–225. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijcard.2008.06.051
- van Dam, R. M., & Hu, F. B. (2005). Coffee Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes. JAMA, 294(1), 97. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.294.1.97
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About the Author
Elizabeth is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition expert. She works to increase food security and food literacy in her community, and in her spare time, she can be found spending time in the garden.