No food or beverage is a miracle worker, but green tea comes close. With a host of powerful antioxidants, a moderate amount of caffeine, and traces of theobromine and theophyline, two natural stimulants, this tea provides maximum health benefits and zero calories per cup.
I discovered green tea by accident a few years ago. Not for weight loss or as a replacement for coffee, but as a panacea for bad dental health. I’d had a tooth pulled and just come back from the dentist, so the usual brushing and flossing was out of the question. And dried blood in the mouth doesn’t smell very good. Even the cat backed away from me!
After doing some internet sleuthing, and discovered green tea improved your breath and neutralized bacteria in your mouth. There are even green tea mouthwashes from Colgate, Listerine and my favorite, Therabreath. You don’t need to buy green tea mouthwash to keep your breathe fresh – brewing green tea at home will give you a cleaner mouth, more energy and other benefits.
Green tea (Camellia sinesis) has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine. Highly regarded as a natural diuretic and stimulant, it’s also been used to heal wounds faster, improve digestion and lower blood pressure.
The health benefits of green tea seem too good to be true, but I can vouch for several of them.
Green tea has less caffeine than coffee, but its other components make up for that. It gives you energy in a low-key, relaxed way. I started drinking green tea daily about two and a half years ago, and I can’t remember the last time I felt sluggish.
A Healthier Mouth
An Egyptian study showed subjects who rinsed their mouths with green tea for five minutes had reduced amounts of acid and bacteria. Drinking green tea may also guard against gum disease and banish microbes that cause bad breath. I haven’t had any cavities since making green tea my beverage of choice, although may also have a lot to do with changing my diet. (I rarely eat sugary foods or drink alcohol now.)
Catechins (a type of antioxidant) in green tea may kill flu viruses. A cup or two of tea a day (sans milk, which can clog up your respiratory system and weaken the catechins) strengthens your immune system to protect you from common colds and the flu. And if you do catch a cold, you’ll bounce back faster.
If you want to cut your appetite naturally, without resorting to diet pills, drink green tea. A Japanese study concluded catechins in green tea reduced body fat, weight and waist circumference in subjects who consumed the tea over a 12 week period. I can agree with these findings. I don’t get hunger pangs for comfort food since I’ve added 2-4 cups of green tea to my daily routine.
Green tea is a thermogenic, aka a natural, fat-burning substance. Drink a few cups of green tea a day and add other thermogenic foods to your diet to stay thinner by eating well. Turkey breast, chicken breast, fish, whole-wheat bread, cayenne pepper and turmeric are just a few foods that provide essential nutrients while helping you burn fat and stunting your appetite.
Green Tea Vs. Matcha Green Tea
How does green tea differ from black tea? It’s not fermented, which gives the leaves more inflammation-fighting antioxidants. If you drink black tea, you’ll still experience increased energy, a better mood, and other antioxidant benefits, they just won’t be as powerful as the benefits from green tea.
Matcha green tea is even better for you than regular green tea. It’s a powder made from ground tea leaves. Tea leaves are infused into hot water, then thrown away to make regular bagged green tea. When you drink matcha green tea, you’re consuming whole tea leaves, not just brewed, steeped tea. You’ll get more antioxidants, and as much caffeine as in a cup of brewed coffee (70-140 mg). The best matcha tea brands usually come from Japan.
Why Is Green Tea So Healthy?
Two of the components in green tea provide innumerable health benefits.
EGCG, (Epigallocatechin gallate) is a powerful polyphenol antioxidant. It destroys free radicals to prevent inflammation and disease. An average cup of green tea contains 25-86 mg of EGCG.
The amino acid L-Theanine, relieves stress without making you sleepy, and it may aid the cardiovascular system and help prevent cancer. A non-essential amino acid, it’s not needed to make protein, but it offers strong anti-anxiety effects and helps produce dopamine in the brain.
Green Tea Protects Against Cancer and Heart Disease
Research has shown green tea protects against diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer and other chronic diseases.
A Korean study concluded drinking 3 cups of green tea a day reduces stroke risk. The study consisted of subjects with non-traumatic acute hemorrhagic stroke and no stroke history and control groups matched by age and gender from ages 30-84.
Green tea helps prevent several types of cancer. The polyphenols in green tea have been shown to prevent the growth of cancer cells in the esophagus and the lungs. Studies indicate drinking green tea reduces the chance of developing pancreatic cancer. Women who drank matcha green tea or black tea had a lower risk of developing bladder cancer. Men with bladder cancer who drank green tea had a better survival rate than those who didn’t, according to a Chinese study. Another Chinese study showed women under 50 who drank 3 or more cups of green tea a day were less likely to develop breast cancer.
Green tea helps people with diabetes regulate their blood sugar levels. The catechins in green tea keep waistlines svelte, preventing the obesity that contributes to Type 2 diabetes.
Green tea raises good (HDL) cholesterol, according to study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Good cholesterol removes artery-clogging bad (LDL) cholesterol from the body. A high HDL cholesterol level reduces your chance of heart attack and stroke.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Many people suffering from IBS can’t drink carbonated soda, alcohol or coffee without stomach upset. Green tea is a good substitute since it’s bubble-free and contains a moderate amount of caffeine.
CATGE, one of the lesser-known but still potent chemicals in green tea, was shown to reduce the likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have also showed EGCG prevents the development of Alzheimer’s in mice. Green tea promotes better brain function, keeping mental clarity strong and guarding against dementia.
Any kind of green tea contains these antioxidants, but like other teas, the more expensive brands are better. You’ll reap benefits from all types of green tea except the rock-bottom, 99 cents store brands. I sometimes buy Trader Joe’s or the generic brand from Albertsons, and they pep me up fine. For maximum impact, buy Bigelow Green Tea with Lemon. It packs a great punch better than any other bagged green teas I’ve tasted, and the lemon is from lemon peel, not lemongrass. Drinking green tea with lemon improves its antioxidant power. Add a lemon wedge to plain, hot green tea for an extra buzz and extra health benefits.
FYI: Bigelow Green Tea with Lemon contains non-GMO soy lecithin. If you want to avoid soy, check another green tea.
Drink green tea without sugar or honey, for the full, calorie-free effect.The polyphenols in green tea give it a bitter taste, which may take some getting used to if you’re a sugar junkie. Once you’re introduced to it, iced green tea is one of the most refreshing drinks you can sip on a hot, humid summer day.
Does green tea have a downside? There aren’t any serious contraindications, but if you’re sensitive to caffeine, you should avoid drinking too many cups as it can cause insomnia, dizziness and anxiety. Some people experience stomach upset after drinking green tea. Eat a snack or meal before drinking to prevent this.
Green tea may interfere with iron absorption. If you drink lots of green tea, it’s a good idea to take an iron supplement daily. Drinking green tea shortly after eating an iron-rich meal (red meat, spinach, kale) or taking an iron supplement will reduce green tea’s antioxidant benefits. Avoid consuming iron-rich foods and green tea during the same meal to get more nutritional benefits.
If you take medication or have any chronic health issues, ask your doctor if there are any contraindications to drinking green tea.
Adding green tea to your diet may not cure all your ills, but it will definitely give you more pep, fight bad breath and whittle down your appetite.
Do you drink green tea? If so, have you noticed any health benefits since you started drinking it? Let us know in the comment section!
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