Green tea is a popular product which most people enjoy as a refreshing and invigorating beverage. Its health properties are outstanding, it is an easy and enjoyable addition to your day, and the movement has expanded to extracts and pills so that everyone can enjoy the benefits!
What is green tea and why is it important?
Green tea is a product derived from the Camellia sinensis plant species. During production, buds, leaves, and stems from these plants are simply steamed at high temperatures.
The tea is then ready for consumption. These teas originated in China, but have obviously spread throughout Asia and the western world. Because of its many wonderful health properties, green tea is found in many health products, dietary supplements, and even cosmetics.
Green tea offers a broad scope of health benefits such as:
- Mental alertness
- Reduction of neurodegenerative diseases
- Reduction of headaches
- Calms stomach disorders, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Fights bone loss (osteoporosis)
- Promotes dental health (even freshens breath)
- Oxidizes and mobilizes fat
- Improves insulin sensitivity
- Boosts energy
- Reduces Anxiety
- Promotes healthy heart and blood vessels, blood flow, and minimizes cholesterol
- Treatment and prevention of human papilloma virus (HPV), cervical cancer
- Treatment of genital warts (when used as an ointment)
The health-promoting compounds of green tea and how they work
When breaking down the properties of green tea, one can see why it is such a popular health supplement.
Green tea is rich in many health-inducing components.
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- Enzymes of the glutathione S-transferase (GST) variety detoxify cancer- causing chemicals and other toxins, converting carcinogens to non-toxic chemicals.
- Amino Acids, especially L-theanine, bring relaxation and other mental benefits.
- Polyphenals such as Flavonoids and catechins function as antioxidants.
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- Phytochemicals also work as antioxidants. Green tea’s power phytochemical is Epigallocatechin or EGCG. This slows irregular cell growth and evidence shows it can act against some cancers.
- Dietary minerals abound such as Manganese, Zinc, Chromium, and Selenium.
- Supplemental vitamins A, D, E, C, B, B5, H, and K can also be found in green tea.
- Caffeine enables fat oxidation and increases function of neurons
As you can see, many compounds are at work when you drink greet tea.
Green tea is not only a source of nutrients and minerals, but more importantly, antioxidants. The only calorie-free source of antioxidants, tea serves as an easy way to get your cells healthy and rejuvenating cell growth by fighting toxins.
While those antioxidants are working away at your cells, the amino acid, L-theanine is at work in your mind. Unleashing neurotransmitters and bringing relaxation, L-theanine is really only found in green and black tea, so make sure to drink up!
Lastly, the jury is still out on the weight-loss benefits of green tea (which we will get into below). However, if the caffeine boost doesn’t actually get your metabolism kicking in full swing, it will have you moving around, burning calories, and getting things done with energy and mental clarity.
An In-Depth Look at Why Green Tea Should be a Staple in your Diet:
Now that you can identify some of the main players in the health benefits green tea, we will look a little more closely at the work that they actually do. We will also look into any possible risks involved with making green tea part of your routine.
After examination, you will see that the main result of green tea in the diet is:
- The detoxification of carcinogens
- The stimulation of neurotransmitters
- The oxidation and mobilization of fat
Cancer-Fighting Properties of Green Tea
Detoxifiers in green tea are the amino acids, the polyphenols, flavonoids, catechins, and phytochemicals. The most important thing to take away from all of these categories of super-food greatness is Epigallocatechin or EGCG.
This little dose of anti-cancer goodness is a potent antioxidant. Many recent studies point to a connection of EGCG with the prevention of AIDS related dementia, cancer, neurodegeneration, and more. EGCG does this by flushing out cancer-causing free-radicals in the system.
We can thank polyphenols for yet another health benefit: It helps heart and blood vessel function. Flavonoids are the phytochemical responsible for this. They work as antioxidants and sweep away free radicals. These pesky free radicals are created in the metabolic process and cause damage to our cells.
This damage leads to degeneration and aging. When flavonoids are in the equation however, they help to flush these free-radicals out, and evidence strongly suggests that they can help prevent heart disease.back to menu ↑
Green Tea for Brain Function
Caffeine is the main component behind the mental benefits of green tea. With a content of about 25 mg caffeine per 8 fl. oz cup, green tea can give you a lift and mental edge:
- Green tea energizes you without the jitters and edginess that coffee can sometimes cause.
- This amount of caffeine is enough to block the inhibitory transmitter, Adenosine, and in effect, increases the firing of neurons, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
- L-theanine is another component of green tea which can alleviate drowsiness, and studies report that it may also aid in fighting anxiety.
- Flavonoids found in green tea help to sweep away free radicals which damage our cells, boosting resistance to degenerative neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
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The Weight-loss Properties of Green Tea
The caffeine content of green tea is also a major player in why green tea is promoted as a diet supplement. This caffeine, along with polyphenols, induce thermogenesis (a heating process) which mobilizes stores of fat in our bodies.
This heating creates separation and oxidation of fat which boosts metabolism. Research disagrees on whether or not the amount of this boost in metabolism makes a difference when it actually comes to losing weight, however this process also boosts energy which results in more calories burned. The overall idea is that by drinking green tea, one can mobilize one’s fat, making it ready to burn.back to menu ↑
What topical extracts can do for skin conditions
How Topical Extracts Have been Developed to Treat Skin Ailments
Green tea has also played a role in skin health by way of topical extracts. The polyphenols mentioned above act as antioxidants inside our body. They also have health benefits when topically applied. These polyphenols prevent inflammation and swelling, protect cartilage between bones, and lesson joint degeneration. Here are the 3 areas in which green tea can help your skin and organs grow and stay healthy.
1) On-the-Surface Benefits: When applied topically, green tea can help prevent skin cancer by blocking toxic UV rays, and it works effectively in tandem with sunblock. Because of it’s rejuvenating properties as far as being an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, it also makes sense that green tea is a great ointment for aging skin. Our trusty polyphenols are at work here too, slowing down the signs of aging by detoxifying.
2) Healthy Cells: Growing evidence also shows that polyphenols in green tea extract can prevent many types of cancer by inhibiting tumor formation and growth of abnormal cells in the cervix. It is not uncommon for physicians to prescribe treatments of green tea both orally and topically for patients with cervical dysplasia and/or HPV. Research and testing is also in motion to determine the positive effects of green tea extract applied topically to aid in the healing of genital warts.
3) Anti-Aging: For all of it’s rejuvenating glory, green tea can be found in many cosmetic products and skin lotions. One can also apply warm and moist teabags under the eyes in order to soothe relax the skin, to sunburns to heal damaged skin, or to the forehead in cases of headaches. Another thing to remember is that if you simply drink enough tea, you can reap many of these skin-healing benefits as well.back to menu ↑
Popular Ways to Become a Green Tea Convert
The amount of green tea-drinkers is growing every day, which means more and more options are available to you when choosing to consume green tea. Here is a little guide which references a few different types of popular green tea varieties. Hopefully you can find one (or many!) that you think you could enjoy.
Longjing tea is the most popular in China. A good quality longing tea will taste a little bitter, and could have aromas of butter, spinach, toast, grass, nut, and/or kale.
Gunpowder Green is an essential ingredient for moroccan green tea. This variety is quite strong and bitter, but nevertheless delicious, especially when mixed with honey or mint.
Jasmine tea is a refreshing and aromatic green which is somewhat bitter. As the name suggests, is infused with jasmine flowers.
Sencha tea is a Japanese varietal made from leaves that were exposed to direct sun. It tastes robust and a bit grassy, or sea-weedy, but also has a sweetness to it.
Matcha is a powdered tea, finely ground, and used also to flavor ice cream. When drank as a tea, it is rich, vegetal, and has a lingering sweetness.
Flavored teas are a good way to go if the green varieties listed above are all too bitter. Keep in mind that whatever type you choose, if you decide on the de-caffeinated options, your health benefits will be a slightly different.back to menu ↑
Green Tea Pills
Not a big tea drinker? You can still reap the benefits of green tea by way of supplemental pills and extracts. Many green tea supplements are advertised as weight-loss products. One should remember that although green tea has many health-boosting compounds, the research on green tea and weight-loss does not all agree on its weight-loss powers.
Regardless, one can still greatly benefit from green tea in other ways described above by taking a supplemental pill.
Make sure to check the ingredients and dosages when choosing a specific pill. Be sure to get the desired dosage of catechins and EGCG. Many supplements contain between 100 – 750 mg of polyphenols per pill. A recommended daily allotment for this is 10 mg per kilogram of bodyweight.
The average amount of polyphenols in a single cup of green tea is 80 mg. Keep in mind when choosing to take the pill that is much more potent than a single cup of tea.back to menu ↑
How to Start a Green Tea Diet
As with any other diet, the best way to think of your new lifestyle is in the long-term: How can you make this new activity a habit in your daily life? If you are going the tea-drinking route and want to have effective results, consuming about four cups of tea a day would be a good regimen.
Think about where you could fit these cups in to mix with your daily life. Two cups in the morning would not only provide you with half your dosage of antioxidants, but would also wake you up by boosting your caffeine-levels. That way, you have two more meals in which you can enjoy a cup of green tea. Remember not to drink it too late in the evening if you are sensitive to caffeine.
The other thing to remember is that green tea is a mild diuretic. If you increase your intake of green tea, be sure to also increase your intake of water to avoid dehydration.
Lastly, if you decide to go with a green tea pill, check all dosage amounts and make sure you aren’t exceeding any recommended amounts.back to menu ↑
Side Effects of Green Tea
People have been drinking green tea for centuries, however there are a few things to be cautious of, especially if you are introducing it into your diet for the first time. In some rare cases, green tea can cause stomach upset or constipation. For most, however, it works as a diuretic, so be sure to drink plenty of water to counter-act this effect. Because it is a diuretic, green tea can pose some danger to liver function in rare cases.
Although not as strong in caffeine as many other beverages, green tea can cause over-caffeination with overuse. Effects of this are:
Tremors, heartburn, dizziness
Ringing in the ears
High blood pressure
*People prone to certain conditions may benefit from consulting a doctor before consumption. Regardless, be sure to start slowly when introducing caffeine into your system for the first time. These conditions are:
Irritable bowel syndrome
As you have read, green tea is a great detoxifier and functions by sweeping out certain elements in the body. Some evidence points to the reduction of absorption of iron and calcium with green tea consumption. For this reason, people with certain blood or bone conditions (such as the listed below) should use with care.
Bone conditions or diseases (such as osteoporosis)
It is very important to avoid consumption of green tea in some very specific circumstances. Any person who is also under the influence of any stimulant drug such as amphetamines, cocaine, or ephedrine should not consume caffeine.
Be alert to any medications that you currently take. Follow the label, and if they warn not to mix with caffeine or could cause blood-clotting issues, one should not consume green tea.back to menu ↑
Green Tea and Pregnancy
Because of the caffeine content of green tea, it is not suggested for women who are pregnant of nursing.
It is possible that very minimal intake of green tea (no more than two cups a day) is safe, however increasing this amount has been linked to increases in miscarriage and other negative effects. Women should avoid substantial amounts of caffein while nursing, as it can pass into breast milk.