Green tea has been enjoyed in Asia for over 5,000 years, and Asian physicians, philosophers, and scientists have claimed that this beverage provides astounding health benefits.
Green tea is associated with everything from longevity to curing cancer, from weight loss to increased physical endurance.
But is it true?
Right now, in the west more and more people are discovering green tea and scientists here are trying to determine if the “green tea secrets” from the Orient are fact or fiction. First, we have to establish the differences among teas. There is black tea (the most commonly drunk tea in the United States), white tea, green tea, Oolong tea, and fragrant teas (such as jasmine tea and other “Chinese restaurant teas”). All teas come from the tree known as Camellia Senesis. The differences between teas come from when they are picked (white tea is picked sooner than black tea) and how the tea leaves are processed after picking (black tea is exposed to the most oxygen). Green tea is steamed after picking and not exposed to much oxygen, resulting in a mild flavor and pale-colored tea. These distinctions may seem trivial, but the health benefits of tea have been shown to vary depending on the type of tea.
To get the health benefits of green tea, you have to buy “green” tea — not regular tea (which is black) or white, Oolong, Jasmine, or herbal teas. Second, you cannot drink green tea with milk. The casein protein in milk inhibits the benefits of green tea.
Plus, it tastes funny.
Also, you can’t get these health benefits from drinking green tea beverages sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners. These drinks may taste good, but they are trying to cash in on the green tea label without delivering the real health benefits. So far, scientific studies have demonstrated that there are a lot of health benefits from regularly drinking green tea.
- Green tea really does lower the risk of developing heart disease. Asians, as a rule, smoke more than Americans and have less heart disease. Green tea has been proposed as the possible reason why.
- Green tea is loaded with antioxidants and vitamins. One small cup of green teas has as much vitamin C as an orange! Antioxidants help with anti-aging. This may be one Asian secret for youthful-looking skin!
- Science in the West has found that drinking green tea promotes relaxation and is a good stress-buster. No wonder some Japanese corporations serve green tea to their hard-working employees!
- Green tea has been shown to promote healthy gums.
- Green tea does indeed boost T-cell production which means it enhances your body’s natural immune system. Regularly drinking green tea allows your body to be in top shape to fight off infections, colds, and whatever else is “going around.”
Green Tea and Weight Loss
Green tea has been promoted as a weight loss aid.
That’s both true and false.
Simply drinking five or six small cups of green tea daily will not make you thin. So if that’s your green tea diet, it won’t work. However, green tea is a definite weight-loss aid. It is packed with polyphenols and has caffeine (do not buy decaf if you want weight loss benefits). Polyphenols and caffeine together stimulate the body’s ability get rid of fat. In fact, five or six small cups of green tea daily (figure about 30 ounces total, taken over the course of the day) can boost the metabolic rate by 4%. So it aids in weight loss.
If you want the real “Asian secret” to green tea weight loss, here are some tips:
- Drink five to six small cups (about 5 ounces) of green tea daily throughout the day. Do not add milk, do not add sugar or artificial sweetener. Green tea is a bit of an acquired taste, but if you stick with it, you will soon find it very refreshing.
- Substitute green tea when you can for higher-calorie beverages, including coffee drinks (which can contain more calories than a meal) and sodas.
- Green tea cannot help you lose weight unless you eat less, watch what you eat, and exercise more. If you are on a sensible diet and exercise plan, green tea can help you lose weight.
- Drink green tea throughout the day as a snack or pick-me-up.
- After eating a meal, cap it off with a small cup of green tea to help settle the stomach and promote good digestion.
There is a great deal of research going on regarding green tea. In some cases—as often occurs with early research—results are unclear. Here is where we are still exploring what green tea may (or may not) be able to do for us.
Green tea prevents:
- Dental cavities
- Reduce the risk of developing kidney stones
- Lower cholesterol
- Improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance (for helping to control blood sugar in people with Type II diabetes)
- Enhance brain function in people with Parkinson’s Disease or Alzheimer’s Disease
- Prevent glaucoma and other eye diseases
Is there anything green tea can’t do for you?
Green tea can be enjoyed pretty freely, but it does contain caffeine (about one-third the amount of caffeine found in black tea). Green tea may interact with certain medications, including bortezomib (a chemotherapy drug) and others. If you on chemotherapy or regularly take other medications, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before making major dietary changes.
It’s no wonder the Asian community love their green tea so much!
Green tea has so many benefits — from disease preventions to weight loss, once you take one sip of this nutritious drink, you can’t stop and don’t want to.
Hope this post about green tea will get you thinking about drinking it more often now — stay safe, healthy, and live life like you mean it, be your happy selves!