Green tea probably is one of the best and healthiest drinks even on this earth. This is full of antioxidants and rich in other nutrients that are helpful in maintaining a good and healthy body and mind. This is indeed a super-drink that help us live longer and healthier. An unsweetened cup of green tea is a zero-calorie drink. Let's see why this is a super- drink with the health benefits of green tea.
Green tea is native to China and India. But due to many research findings on its nutrition and health benefits, this has gained popularity in the USA and other countries as well.
What is Green Tea?
Most of the tea is made from dried leaves of Camellia Sinensis. The level of oxidation determines the type of tea. Green tea is made from unoxidized leaves and that's why this is the least processed type of tea.
Hence it contains most essential antioxidants (EGCG) along with polyphenols. Due to less processing, the micronutrients in the leaves stay intact and we get maximum benefits from these leaves.
How Does It Works?
Green tea is prepared by steaming and pan-frying the leaves and drying them. Unlike black tea, it's not highly processed and fermented. This has been used as medicine in India & China.
Green tea has 30 % polyphenols including large amounts of catechins which are the natural antioxidants, known as EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate). These catechins help in diet-induced thermogenesis.
This catechin-polyphenols help in inhibiting an enzyme catechol-O-methyltransferase, an enzyme that degrades a hormone norepinephrine. This stimulates thermogenesis and break down of fat cells. Again this also helps in prolonging the thermogenesis which ultimately results in high metabolic rate and ultimately in weight loss.
Health Benefits of Green Tea
Rich in Anti-oxidants
Green tea is made with unoxidized leaves. Hence it's rich in natural antioxidants. These antioxidants are a real boon for the human body and brain altogether.
Antioxidants prevent or slow down damage to cells caused by free radicals which are produced in the body as byproducts of natural metabolism and exposure to radiations and environmental pollutants.
Since free radicals are highly reactive, they can damage our body cells and also can cause serious chronic diseases. Normally the free radicals are neutralized by antioxidant enzymes and nutrition derived antioxidants.
So including antioxidant-rich food and drink helps in maintaining the balance in our body and helps us fight with various diseases. Thus keeps us healthy.
Helps in Weight Loss
The antioxidants present in green tea helps in increasing metabolism and stimulate the breakdown of fat cells.
When metabolic rate increases, the body needs more calories. That means your body burns more energy or calorie from the food you eat.
So the higher the metabolism you have the more calories you may burn and this will lead to gain lesser weight and maintain proper body weight.
This also acts strongly on the breakdown of visceral fats or harmful belly fats which may lead to coronary disease and diabetes if not reduced.
Improves Brain Function:
Green tea has caffeine content like other tea and coffee but the proportion is less. Caffeine works as a central nervous stimulant. This helps to keep energy level up and keeps our body and mind alert.
This caffeine triggers the release of catecholamine, adrenaline or noradrenaline quickly.
Research has shown that green tea influences psychopathological symptoms (anti-stress), healthy cognitive system (memory & attention), and brain function. This is because of both caffeine and an amino acid I-theanine.
Helps in Cancer Prevention
Cancer is nothing but an unnatural and rapid growth of cells. Since the cells naturally don't die and keep on growing and dividing, these develop into tumor cells and spreads rapidly. High levels of polyphenols and powerful antioxidants present in green tea help kill cancerous cells and stop them from growing.
Though multiple studies have shown that green tea drinkers are less likely to have cancer as compared to others who don't drink green tea. However, the exact mechanism is not yet clear.
Helps in Lowering Cholesterol
Research has shown that green tea intake lowers total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Since it helps reduce bad cholesterol, this is healthy for the heart and overall body health.
In a research finding, green tea was also found to produce statistically significant reductions in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and blood pressure. And ultimately this reduces the risk of heart diseases and heart strokes.
Green tea extract can effectively inhibit peroxidation of LDL cholesterol and that this activity is due largely to the polyphenols it contains. So this tea lowers the risk of heart diseases.
Keeps Heart Healthy
It contains high flavonoids which are phytochemicals and have anti-inflammatory properties. It helps in reducing coronary inflammation.
In a research finding in 2011 regarding the effect of tea/ coffee on cardiovascular disease, it became very clear how healthy this is for our heart. The findings were really insightful.
There was a reduced risk of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) by 28% and an associated 10% decrease in risk with an increase in consumption of green tea by 1 cup a day.
Helps Lower Blood Sugar & Diabetes.
Diabetes is one of the most dangerous diseases that affects the way the body metabolizes and uses glucose. In this case, our body either inhibits the production of insulin effectively or resists the effect of this hormone on the movement of sugar into cells. So it results in an increased blood sugar level. This is a potentially dangerous disease that affects vital organs like kidney, liver and other as well.
In research it was evidently found that green tea consumption significantly reduced the fasting glucose, fasting insulin concentrations and hemoglobin concentrations. So the consumption of green tea leads to a reduced risk of diabetes.
Also, the tea acts on the root cause of this disease like obesity. Green tea helps in increasing metabolism, weight reduction, treatment for obesity which indirectly helps in the prevention of this disease
Polyphenols are antioxidant molecules found in green tea. These have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antineoplastic properties.
The antioxidants also help the body to fight against free radicals and protects them. Thus it helps in keeping our skin healthy. The anti-inflammatory properties help to get rid of chronic acne. This includes drinking tea and even applying the tea extract on the affected area.
Lowers Risk of Dementia & Parkinson's Disease
Alzheimers and Parkinson's Disease are two critical neurodegenerative diseases. These are a crucial factor of old age. Alzheimer's leads to dementia (forgetful to the extreme level). The catechin content of green tea helps to protect neurons.
Green tea has a beneficial effect on cognitive dysfunction and memory loss. The neurodegenerative disease occurs because of the abnormal storage or accumulation of fibrous proteins, inflammation, elevated expression of pro-apoptotic proteins, and oxidative stress.
The green tea catechins EGCG can prevent the accumulation of fibrous proteins. That's how the green tea catechins have the potential in the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
Also, the tea contains specific polyphenols which can play an important role in delaying the onset or halting the progression of Parkinson's Disease.
When to drink green tea?
As explained above, there are probably numerous health benefits of drinking green tea. To get best out of this healthy drink, follow a few points on the best time to drink green tea:
- Never drink early morning - the higher concentration of catechins may damage the liver if taken on an empty stomach.
- Drink in between meals - this will decrease the appetite and help in increasing metabolism. So more effective.
- Drink before exercise: The caffein will keep the energy high and up for physical activity.
- Drink before 2 hours of bedtime - this ll keep your metabolism up without affecting your sleep.
How many times shall I drink green tea?
This is a super drink with lots of health benefits. But this drink also contains caffeine and so the intake has to be limited to get maximum health benefits and avoiding any side effects of excessive consumption of it.
Too much caffeine will act reverse and will make us less active and will affect our nervous system and brain functions. In general, the caffeine (of green tea) should not exceed 5 times per day to get optimal benefits from green tea.
Possible Side Effects:
When taken in moderation, this is the healthiest drink on this planet for all. Regular drinking in limited quantity will help in weight loss, speeding up metabolism, controlling heart diseases, diabetes, cancer and a lot many more. These side effects are for overconsumption of green tea which may lead to some side effects.
- Excess caffeine may cause anxiety, sleeplessness, stomach upset.
- In pregnant women, excess amounts leads to the risk of birth defects and miscarriage.
- Catechins in green tea reduce the ability to absorb iron from foods. So excess intake may lead to anemia. If you have anemia, avoid drinking this very often.
My Green Tea Story
If you have landed here in search for health benefits of green tea, you are at right place. I will share my personal experience also. This helped me like a magic wand in my weight loss journey.
I have a great tea love always. The hot rich ginger milk tea is my all-time favorite since my teenage. And when you love some food, who cares about the nutritional value of this. But what happens in such a case is more intake of sugar and fat from milk. And I normally take 5 - 6 cups on weekdays and some cups more on weekends i.e around 6 - 8 cups in a day.
So 5 years back, when I realized my food habits and lifestyle is making me obese, unhealthy, and I started taking food and nutrition seriously in my life. Then, when I focused and started my weight loss journey, I came across this magic drink. And after that, I'm in love with this super beverage,i.e. green tea. I love my regular tea but that I have limited to once in a day. And replaced the other times (5 times a day) with this healthy drink.
This helped me a lot. Like a lot. I have shared my diet and weight loss journey on the blog. I had lost good 20 - 25 kg in a span of 8 months. A healthy diet and exercise are essential. But I will give half of the credit to my green tea only. It fastens the process of weight loss by increasing metabolism.
If you liked my post on the health benefits of green tea, please comment below with your experience if any.
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