I propose a revised proverb: "A few cups of tea a day keep the doctors away." The ancient Chinese first started drinking green tea more than 2000 years ago as medicinal treatment (along with other herbal remedies) for infections, detox treatment and improved blood flow. The recent scientific research supports these claims and proves why we should incorporate green tea to our daily diet.
Though there are many different types of tea, they can be divided into three general categories: green (unfermented), oolong (partially fermented), black (fermented). Because green tea is unfermented – meaning, it is the least exposed to air when the tea leaves dry – it boasts many antioxidant qualities demonstrated in other fruits and vegetables. Here are some health benefits to adding green tea to your regular routine.
It works as an anti-inflammatory
Green tea may be effective in preventing chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and lung cancer, by effectively preventing development of TNF-alpha gene expression (a primary trigger in inflammatory diseases).1
It may help lower cholesterol
Polyphenols, a flavonoid compound prominent in green tea as well as fruit, vegetables and coffee, are rich in antioxidants and may help reduce cholesterol. In one experiment with mice with high cholesterol, the ones that regularly consumed green tea extracts showed significant decrease in their cholesterol levels by being able to excrete cholesterol faster.2
It may help with weight loss
The ancient Chinese belief stated that green tea can "wash" the fat away from our bodies – and it turns out, they were not far from the truth. The most recent branch of health effects of green tea is on its effect on the metabolic system. Many studies are beginning to show the possible links between high polyphenol content in green tea with faster energy expenditure and lower percentage of body fat.3
It may help prevent cancer
Of all teas, green tea catechins are the most versatile and can be absorbed in many ways, targeting different organs. Green tea has a high amounts of catechins, such as epicatechin and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). These catechins have high antioxidant qualities, which help to slow down the development and spread of cancer cells by preventing lipid peroxidation and inhibiting free oxygen radicals in the body, both of which are processes that can lead to cancer.4 There have been many trials and experiments done by Japanese scientists, where drinking over 10 Japanese-sized cups of green tea (about 80-120 ml) per day may prevent, or delay the development of cancers.5
It may help prevent diabetes
Green tea catechins can help maintain a healthy level of glucose and insulin in the body. In Japan – one of the highest consumers of green tea – people who drank about 6 cups of green tea per day had a significantly decreased risk of diabetes than those who drank only 1 cup per week.3
To enjoy the maximum health benefits of green tea, always buy fair-trade, organic brands. The traditional Japanese brewing method produces tea in warm or cold water, rather than boiling hot water, which reduces the amount of caffeine in the tea. Most importantly, always drink freshly brewed tea – the beneficial catechins and antioxidants diminish over time.
Image: Penn State
References1. Tsung, C. O. (2005) All teas are not created equal: The Chinese green tea and cardiovascular health. Retrieved from: ScienceDirect.com2. Antioxidative Activity of Green Tea Polyphenol in Cholesterol-Fed Rats. Retrieved from ACS Publications. 3. Thieleckea, F. & Boschmann, M. (2008). The potential role of green tea catechins in the prevention of the metabolic syndrome – A review. Retrieved from ScienceDirect.com4. Terao J., Piskula M. and Yao Q. (1994). The Chemistry of Tea Flavonoids. Retrieved from ScienceDirect.com
5. Kuzuharaa, T., Suganumab, M., & Fujikia, H. (2008). Green tea catechin as a chemical chaperone in cancer prevention. Retrieved from ScienceDirect.com