10 Health Benefits of Green Tea
You heard it a dozen times or more, but it’s still hard to believe that green tea is so miraculously healthy? Yeah, I know, it was hard for me to believe it too. But then I read the research backing that claim, and to be honest, it is the healthiest drink out there. Even if you are not a tea lover, you’ll start drinking green tea after you read this list.
For ages, green tea was used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine. They used it to improve mental health, heal wounds, control bleeding, regulate body temperature, help digestion, and lessen cardiovascular problems. Seems that one simple drink can’t do all that, right?
Well, I never believe trends, but I believe in scientific research, and here are 10 health benefits of green tea that have been confirmed through legitimate research studies.
1. Lower risk of various types of cancer
We all know that cancer is a bunch of out-of-control cells dividing chaotically, wreaking havoc on the body. So how can green tea help here? It is a great source of polyphenols that are antioxidants which have been proven to decrease tumor growth. Oxidative damage is what contributes to the development of cancer cells, so antioxidants have a protective effect, and green tea is filled with them.
What goes a long way to support this claim is the fact that in countries where green tea consumption is high, cancer rates tend to be noticeably lower.
It reduces the risk of:
Prostate cancer – Men who drink green tea have a 48% lower risk of developing prostate cancer – the most common type of cancer among men.
Breast cancer – According to many observational studies, women who drink green tea have a 22% lower risk of developing breast cancer.
Colorectal cancer – A study that involved almost 70 thousand Chinese women found that those who drink green tea are at 57% less risk of developing this type of cancer.
Other studies have shown that green tea has positive effects on the following types of cancer as well: bladder, ovarian, esophageal, lung, skin, and stomach.
2. Lower risk of infection
Those polyphenols in green tea that help when cancer is in question, do the same for infection. These polyphenols contain theaflavins, tannins, flavonoids and catechins. The latter two ones kill bacteria and lower your risk of infections.
For instance, drinking green tea can help prevent cavities and tooth decay, as catechins are proven to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in your mouth. So drinking this tea can help you to maintain better dental health, and prevent unpleasant breath.
3. Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular diseases take more lives worldwide than anything else, so heart disease and stroke are among biggest fears for most of us. Luckily, studies have proven that green tea helps reduce this risk.
I already wrote about antioxidants in green tea, but they don’t just help against cancer, they also have beneficial effects on cholesterol, triglyceride and LDL cholesterol level.
What it does, is it increases antioxidant capability of our blood drastically, and in turn, it protects particles of LDL cholesterol from oxidation, which is known to be a pathway to heart disease.
A study conducted on over 40.000 Japanese participants had shown that consumption of green tea reduced mortality from cardiovascular disease, among others. So, 5 cups of green tea per day can reduce the risk of dying from heart-related diseases.
4. It can improve brain function
Among the key ingredients of green tea is caffeine, which is not just going to keep you awake, but it will also make your brain more efficient, and without those nasty jittery effects that too much coffee can cause.
Caffeine is great for your brain since it blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter – Adenosine. Because it does this, it helps increase the firing of neurons and the concentration of neurotransmitters. This leads to improvements in terms of attention, mood, memory and reaction time.
Another thing green tea contains that helps your brain is the amino acid L-theanine. It has anti-anxiety effects, and increases dopamine levels.
The combination of these two ingredients found in green tea will give you a much better and more stable energy boost than coffee or an energy drink would, allowing you to be more productive with no tedious side effects.
5. It can lower the risk of type II diabetes
Since this disease reached epidemic proportions, everything that reduces risk of it is worth trying. Over 300 million people worldwide are affected by type II diabetes, so studies are actively being conducted in order to find a way to prevent it.
Green tea was proven to successfully improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.
One study conducted in Japan found that people who drank the most green tea, had a lower risk of developing this disease, and by a whopping 42%.
So, consuming this natural tea as a beverage, or even in capsule form can cause significant, but mild reductions in total LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels.
6. Improves physical performance and increases fat burning
Green tea was proven to increase fat burning and boost the metabolic rate, so it’s no wonder you can find it in almost every fat burning supplement.
Studies have shown that green tea can increase energy we spend by up to 4%, increase fat oxidation by 17%, and improve physical performance by 11%, and I have to say, that’s not too shabby at all.
Unfortunately, I have to say that in some studies green tea did little to nothing to help with any of the three cases, so these effect might vary greatly for each individual.
7. It can help with weight loss
I already wrote that it has the ability to increase the metabolic rate, so it makes sense that it is able to help you lose weight.
There are several studies that show that green tea helps decrease body fat, especially on your stomach. One of these studies was conducted on 240 men and women, and it lasted for 12 weeks. Significant decrease in body weight, waist circumference, abdominal fat and body fat percentage was recorded in the green tea group.
Even though these results sound amazing, I would take them with a pinch of salt, and wouldn’t expect miracles to happen overnight.
8. It can improve your overall health
Because green tea is consumed as is, it gets to keep the bioactive compounds that other things we consume do not. I already wrote about polyphenols, and the four types of them that can be found in green tea, but, they are good for more than two things in our bodies.
These antioxidants reduce formation of free radicals in our bodies, which means they protect our cells from damage – and free radicals have a role in aging as well as in many diseases.
One of the most powerful polyphenols that green tea contains is Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), that, according to a number of studies, is the main reason green tea has medicinal properties that are this powerful.
Also, small amounts of important minerals can be found in green tea, minerals that are important for health.
9. It can extend your lifespan
I know, the fear of death is natural, and we all have to die one day, but I’d rather make it later than sooner. When you think about everything else green tea does, it makes perfect sense that it can make our lives longer.
In a study that was conducted in Japan, on over 40,000 adults, people who drank 5 cups of green tea per day, or more, were less likely to die during a 11-year period. Mortality, regardless of the cause, was 12% lower in men and 23% percent lower in women. Moreover, death from stroke was 35% lower in men, 42% lower in women.
I don’t know about you, but I am inclined to drink at least 5 cups of green tea every day for the rest of my life.
10.It can protect your brain in old age
One of my biggest concerns is that when I grow old, my mind would deteriorate, so when I read that green tea can lower the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, I rushed to check the studies, and everything lines up.
This tea doesn’t just give your brain a short-term efficiency boost, but it also protects it in the long-term.Studies have shown that the catechins found in green tea can protect neurons in test tubes, as well as animal models, which means that they have potential to decrease the risk of these two most widespread neurodegenerative diseases.
To be more precise, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world and is the leading cause of dementia. As for Parkinson’s disease, it follows right up behind it as the second most common one.
I’m really not a tea person, and I understand if you aren’t either, but, when you look at all the benefits that green tea brings to the table, you realize that you don’t have to enjoy everything you eat or drink, and that you can suffer through some unpleasant taste if it brings palpable benefits to your long-term health.
I’m going to brew myself a cup of this magical elixir, and I recommend you to try it, too, and also maybe make it a part of your daily routine.