All of my life I have been an avid tea drinker! I think it’s part of our culture here in Ireland especially to drink multiple cups of tea a day. We almost use it as a comfort and you always expect the question when you walk into any home in Ireland, ‘Will you have a cup of tea?’. But recently, I have really been making a conscious effort to replace my old friend black tea (loaded with sugar), with green tea! And I must admit, I found it very hard at first! But once you get used to the taste, add some lemon or even just a drop or two of natural honey (if you have a major sweet tooth like myself) you’ll never look back!
So, what’s all the fuss about? Why would I bother drinking green tea? Well, that’s what I’m going to try to answer in this blog. I’m going to outline the main health benefits green tea has been found to have in the latest research out there which will hopefully convince all of you reading this to pick up a box of it the next time you’re in the shops!
Firstly, a bit of background. Green tea has been used as a medicine for thousands of years, originating in China but widely used throughout Asia for uses such as to control bleeding, heal wounds, aid digestion, improve heart health and regulate body temperature. The reason that green tea has more health benefits attached to it than black tea is due to the processing. Black tea is processed in a way that allows for fermentation whereas green tea’s processing avoids the fermentation process. As a result, green tea retains the maximum amount of antioxidants and poly-phenols, the substances that give green tea its many health benefits. Next is a brief list of the main benefits which I have come across in the recent scientific research done on green tea. (It’s important to remember that this topic is still being debated in the research and none of it is set in stone!)
- Increases metabolism
Green tea has been shown to increase fat burning and boost your overall metabolism. The polyphenol found in green tea works to intensify levels of fat oxidation. A study by Hulston et al, 2008, showed that fat oxidation was increased by 17% in the participants who took a green tea supplement. Simply, you burn more fat when you drink green tea, who doesn’t want that?
- Lowers the risk of cancer
Cancer is caused by the uncontrolled growth of cells. It is well known that oxidative damage contributes to the development of cancer and that antioxidants have a protective effect. Green tea is an excellent source of powerful antioxidants, so it makes perfect sense that it could reduce your risk of cancer, which it appears by this evidence to do: A meta-analysis of studies found that women who drank green tea had a 22% lower risk of developing breast cancer. (Sun et al, 2006) Another study found that men drinking green tea had a 48% lower risk of developing prostate cancer. (Kurahashi et al, 2007)
- Lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, are the biggest causes of death in the world. Green tea has been shown to lower total and LDL cholesterol. A 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that green tea consumption is associated with reduced mortality due to cardiovascular disease. The study followed over 40,000 Japanese participants for 11 years. The participants who drank at least 5 cups of green tea per day had a significantly lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than those who drank less than one cup per day.
- Oral health
Green tea can help keep your gums and teeth healthy. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Periodontology found that drinking green tea regularly reduced the symptoms of periodontal disease, possibly due to the presence of the antioxidant, catechin. Catechin reduces inflammation in the body and therefore, reduces the body’s inflammatory response to periodontal bacteria. This antioxidant has the ability to control bacteria and lower the acidity of saliva and dental plaque which makes it useful for preventing cavities and other indicators of poor oral health. To add to this, another awesome benefit of green tea, multiple studies have shown that it can even reduce bad breath! (Which everyone most definitely doesn’t want to have!)
- Improves brain function
A common misconception about green tea is that it doesn’t contain any caffeine like your regular cup of tea or coffee does, but this is completely false. A key ingredient in green tea is the stimulant caffeine. Now it doesn’t contain as much caffeine as coffee/tea but contains just enough to produce a response without causing the ‘jittery’ effects associated with too much caffeine! The effect of caffeine has been intensively studied and the results consistently lead to various improvements of brain function such as improved mood, vigilance, reaction time and memory. Not only can green tea improve brain function in the short term, it may also protect your brain in old age! Multiple studies show that the catechin compounds in green tea have various protective effects on neurons, potentially lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, the two most common neurodegenerative disorders.
- UV protection
And lastly, you may want to add a packet of green tea to your suitcase when you’re next visiting the sun! The catechins in green tea can actually make the skin more resistant to the effects of UV rays and therefore, prevent premature skin aging! Hallelujah! A 2013 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found a relatively low dose of green tea catechins (540mg/2 cups a day) can considerably reduce the effect of UV radiation on the skin. So you’ll protect your skin and make sure you remain looking younger for longer!
So you’re next question is probably ‘How much green tea should I be drinking?’, right? And there really is no set answer for this! But the reality is that one cup a day is not really going to give you all of these abundant benefits. So try and drink as little as two cups a day and go from there. Also, I’m not saying never again drink your regular tea/coffee but just try and incorporate green tea into your daily routine also! Of course, no one food will protect you from being unhealthy. Your health is wrapped up in your lifestyle and your genes, so even if you drink green tea all day long, you also need to take care of yourself in other ways, like not smoking, being active, and eating a healthy diet!
Just one more side note to this blog: Green tea contains tannins (which can decrease the absorption of folic acid) so if you are pregnant or trying to conceive, just don’t drink buckets of it! One cup won’t hurt though!
So go on, put the kettle on, and have a ‘cuppa’! (a green one preferably!)
This article is by Coach Claire. Get in touch with us today if you are ready to start your own success journey and get real results from your training!