Did you know that green tea is one of the healthiest beverages on the planet? It has been consumed for thousands of years in Asia for its refreshing taste and medicinal properties. In this article, we’ll explore some of the top scientifically-backed health perks of green tea, from preventing chronic diseases to potentially helping you live longer. We’ll also give tips on brewing the healthiest cup possible to maximize benefits.
Antioxidants Protect Cells
One of the main reasons why green tea is so beneficial is because it contains a high amount of antioxidants, especially catechins. Antioxidants are substances that prevent free radical damage to cells, which can cause aging, inflammation, and diseases. Catechins are a type of antioxidant that are particularly effective at scavenging free radicals and protecting DNA from damage.
Several studies have shown that green tea drinkers have lower cancer rates and other diseases than non-drinkers.
A meta-analysis of 18 studies found that green tea consumption was associated with a 22% lower risk of breast cancer.
Another meta-analysis of 13 studies found that green tea consumption was associated with a 42% lower risk of colorectal cancer.
A third meta-analysis of 22 studies found that green tea consumption was associated with a 18% lower risk of prostate cancer.
Fights Bacteria and Plaque
Another benefit of green tea is that it can fight bacteria and plaque in your mouth that cause bad breath and dental problems. This is because green tea contains specific catechins, such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and epicatechin gallate (ECG), that can inhibit the growth and adhesion of bacteria, such as Streptococcus mutans, that produce acid and erode enamel. Green tea also has fluoride, which strengthens teeth and prevents cavities.
Several studies have shown that green tea reduces plaque, gingivitis, and bleeding gums.
A randomized controlled trial of 940 adults found that rinsing with green tea for five minutes twice a day for four weeks significantly reduced plaque index, gingival index, and bleeding index compared to water.
Another randomized controlled trial of 240 adults found that drinking green tea for three months significantly reduced plaque, gingivitis, and bleeding gums compared to placebo.
Provides A Gentle Energy Boost
Green tea is also a great choice for those who want a gentle energy boost and improved attention and alertness. This is because green tea contains caffeine and L-theanine, which are two compounds that have synergistic effects on the brain. Caffeine is a stimulant that blocks adenosine receptors, which are responsible for making you feel sleepy and relaxed. L-theanine is an amino acid that crosses the blood-brain barrier and increases the levels of alpha waves, which are associated with awake calmness and creativity.
Several studies have shown that green tea enhances cognitive performance and mood.
A randomized controlled trial of 91 healthy adults found that drinking green tea for 12 weeks improved working memory, attention, and mood compared to placebo.
Another randomized controlled trial of 40 healthy adults found that drinking green tea for four weeks improved cognitive function, mood, and stress levels compared to placebo.
May Improve Cholesterol and Blood Pressure
Green tea can also lower LDL “bad” cholesterol and blood pressure, which are important for heart health. This is because green tea catechins can inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines, increase the excretion of cholesterol in the bile, and modulate the expression of genes involved in cholesterol metabolism. Green tea catechins can also relax the blood vessels, reduce inflammation, and prevent platelet aggregation, which can lower blood pressure and prevent blood clots.
Several studies have shown that green tea consumption lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
A meta-analysis of 14 randomized controlled trials found that green tea consumption significantly reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 2.8 mmHg and 2.2 mmHg, respectively.
Another meta-analysis of 20 randomized controlled trials found that green tea consumption significantly reduced total cholesterol by 7.2 mg/dL and LDL cholesterol by 2.2 mg/dL.
Could Enhance Fat Burning
Green tea can also boost metabolism and fat burning, which can help with weight loss and weight maintenance. This is because green tea catechins can increase the activity of enzymes that break down fat, such as lipase and carnitine palmitoyltransferase. Green tea catechins can also cut off the blood supply to fat cells, which prevents them from receiving nutrients and oxygen, and eventually leads to their death. Green tea catechins can also increase the thermogenesis, which is the amount of calories burned by the body.
Several studies have shown that green tea has a positive effect on weight loss and weight maintenance.
A meta-analysis of 15 randomized controlled trials found that green tea consumption significantly reduced body weight by 1.31 kg and body mass index by 0.45 kg/m2 compared to placebo.
Another meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials found that green tea consumption significantly reduced body fat percentage by 1.48% and waist circumference by 1.93 cm compared to placebo.
May Guard Against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases
Green tea can also guard against neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, which are characterized by the loss of neurons and synapses in the brain. This is because green tea catechins can prevent the damage caused by amyloid-beta and alpha-synuclein, which are the main proteins that accumulate and form plaques and tangles in the brains of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients, respectively. Green tea catechins can also reduce inflammation and neural damage by modulating the expression of genes and signaling pathways involved in neuroprotection.
Several studies have shown that green tea is linked with lower levels of markers related to Alzheimer’s disease and protects against Parkinson’s disease in animal models.
A cross-sectional study of 716 elderly Japanese people found that green tea consumption was inversely associated with the levels of amyloid-beta in the cerebrospinal fluid, which is a biomarker of Alzheimer’s disease.
Another study of 32 mice with Parkinson’s disease found that green tea extract significantly improved motor function and reduced alpha-synuclein aggregation in the brain.
Potential Longevity Benefits
Green tea drinkers live longer and have lower death rates from all causes, especially heart disease and stroke. This is because green tea can protect against various chronic diseases, as well as modulate the expression of genes and signaling pathways involved in aging and longevity. Green tea can also activate the sirtuin family of proteins, which are known to regulate lifespan in various organisms.
Several studies have shown that green tea consumption is associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality.
A prospective cohort study of 40,530 Japanese adults found that green tea consumption was inversely associated with the risk of death from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke, with the lowest risk observed among those who drank more than five cups per day.
Another prospective cohort study of 14,001 elderly Chinese people found that green tea consumption was inversely associated with the risk of death from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, with the lowest risk observed among those who drank more than three cups per day.
Brewing the Healthiest Cup of Green Tea
To maximize health benefits:
- Steep at 160-180°F: Very hot water destroys nutrients
- Don’t go decaf: Decaffeination damages catechins
- Add lemon: Enhances catechin absorption
- Buy higher quality tea: More nutrients
- Avoid bottled tea or supplements: Avoid anything advertised with incredible claims around green tea extracts. The real brewed tea leaves have the best health effects.
As you can see, green tea is a powerful beverage that can improve your health in many ways. It has antioxidants that protect your cells, fights bacteria and plaque in your mouth, supports brain function and alertness, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, boosts fat burning, guards against neurodegenerative diseases, and may even help you live longer.
So what are you waiting for? Grab a cup of green tea and enjoy its health perks today!
How do you like to drink your green tea? Let us know in the comments below.
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