Of the billions of gallons of tea consumed by Americans every year, 80 percent of it is black, and about 20 percent is green. Tea leaves are rich in polyphenols, which have medicinal properties. While both types of tea have been shown to provide multiple health benefits, I want to focus on those associated with green tea.
- Boost antioxidant protection. The polyphenols in green tea are very potent antioxidants, which help protect against cancer, heart disease, and other diseases associated with free radical damage and aging.
- Enhance weight loss. One specific polyphenol found in green tea— epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)—has been shown to increase thermogenesis, or fat burning. And while drinking green tea will certainly help, to reap full benefits you should also take 300 mg of a standardized extract of green tea called GreenSelect. Look for GreenSelect in products available online and in health food stores.
- Reduce blood sugar spikes. A recent animal study suggests that green tea may reduce the blood sugar spikes that usually occur after consuming starchy foods. Researchers found that when mice were given EGCG (the equivalent of about one and a half cups of green tea) along with corn starch, blood sugar spikes were about 50 percent lower compared to those experienced by the mice who did not receive the EGCG.
- Relieve stress. Green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid known for its relaxing properties. Theanine increases alpha waves in the brain and enhances your body’s natural levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that tones down your brain’s response to stressful situations.
- Lift your mood. One study found that older individuals who drink two or more cups of green tea per day are less likely to be depressed.
- Keep your memory sharp. Drinking green tea has been linked to a lower risk of age-related mental decline.
- Protect your bones. Green tea is also a good source of vitamin K, which improves bone mineralization.
- Alleviate arthritis. Along with the weight loss and blood sugar benefits mentioned earlier, EGCG has been shown to reduce inflammation, slow cartilage breakdown, and protect and promote healing of the joints, making it effective for preventing and treating arthritis.
- Support your immune system. One study found that green tea can block the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from attaching to healthy immune system cells. And Japanese researchers discovered that 3–5 cups of green tea per day reduced flu by 46 percent.
- Fight off bacteria. Other Japanese studies have found that extracts of green tea can prevent the growth of many bacteria that cause diarrhea. Green tea has also been shown to inhibit bacteria associated with dental cavities.
Now it’s your turn: Do you drink green tea?