Green Tea Health Benefits

by Webmaster,

Many of us enjoy the many proven green tea health benefits without even realizing it. Many of us also find green tea a delicious beverage. I certainly do.

Green Tea is believed to have been used for health purposes in China for over 4,000 years, and has also been consumed for many generations in India, Japan and Thailand.

Many health benefits of green tea are attached to its consumption. In fact, in traditional medicine in China and India, green tea has been used for various purposes, including to improve heart health, as a stimulant and as a astringent (to control bleeding).

Yet, as I carry out my research, I am pretty impressed with the number of studies, both clinical and epidemiological in nature, which validate many of the health benefits of drinking green tea which have been suggested for many years.

Green tea antioxidants and health-promoting substances

The main health-promoting substances in green tea are believed to be polyphenols, plant chemicals with strong antioxidant and health properties. Polyphenols in teas are categorized as catechins.

Green tea has a few main types of catechins, including epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechin, epigallocatechin gallate (also known as EGCG) and gallaogatechin. Of these substances in green tea, EGCG is the most studied and believed to be responsible for most of the numerous green tea health benefits.

Catechins in general have been found in studies to be useful in slowing aging, destroying free radicals, fighting viruses, and having overall health-promoting effects on the entire body.

EGCG is a powerful antioxidant found to be stronger than resveratrol, the polyphenol in red wine which is believed to account for lower rate of heart disease in the French, despite a diet high in fat and alcohol.

As an antioxidant, EGCG has also been found to be much more effective at protecting cells from DNA damage than Vitamin C and Vitamin E, and this helps to prevent cancer, heart disease and other serious degenerative conditions.

Green tea also contains substances known as alkaloids, which have stimulating effects, such as caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline.

Green tea health benefits as compared to oolong tea and black tea

Black tea, green tea and oolong tea are all made using the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, which was originally cultivated in East Asia. Today, it grows throughout Asia and parts of Africa. Oolong tea and green tea are more popular in Asia, while the same is true for black tea in the US.

The difference between the types of teas is the method of processing. The leaves of green tea are steamed, limiting the oxidization of EGCG. On the other hand, the leaves of black tea and oolong tea are fermented, and EGCG is converted to other substances in the process.

Oolong tea leaves are partially fermented, while black tea leaves are fully fermented. The higher the level of fermentation, the lower the polyphenol (and thus EGCG) content and also the higher the caffeine content of the tea.

Thus, green tea has the highest polyphenol content, while the caffeine in green tea is only one-third to half the caffeine content of black tea. Hence, green tea health benefits would rank above the health benefits of oolong tea and black tea, in that order.

Green tea health benefits for various diseases and conditions

The benefits of green tea are said to extend to the following health conditions:

  • aging - slows it down
  • atherosclerosis
  • bad breath - relieves it by killing the bacteria which causes it
  • blood sugar - lowers it, due to the polyphenols and polysaccharides it contains
  • cancer - one of the green tea health benefits is the fact that it is a good antioxidant, thus protecting the body from free radical damage; it also inhibits the development and growth of tumors; in addition, it lowers the toxicity of some cancer-causing substances and helps prevent them from binding to the DNA of healthy cells
  • cardiovascular disease - helps prevent
  • cholesterol levels
  • diabetes - prevent and stabilize
  • digestion and bowel regularity - aids it
  • high blood pressure - reduces it
  • immune system - boost it, due to high concentrations of polyphenols and flavenoids; also helps with impaired immune function
  • infection
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • liver disease
  • mental processes / alertness - boosts it
  • neurodegenerative diseases
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • skin health
  • stimulant - a mild one, without overdosing on caffeine
  • tooth decay - prevents, due to its anti-bacterial properties
  • weight loss - some use green tea to lose weight

    Green tea health benefits - some research, studies and evidence

    Do all the above green tea health benefits sound too good to be true? I thought so too. But there does seem to be quite a number of studies supporting the claimed green tea health benefits.

    Green tea and atherosclerosis and heart disease

  • help prevent atherosclerosis and heart disease - epidemiological studies

    Green tea and bad breath

  • inhibit growth of bacteria which cause bad breath - research at the University of Illinois

    Green tea and cancer - green tea health benefits against this serious disease

  • protects against several cancers, including breast cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer - article in New Scientist magazine; epidemiological studies, particularly in Japan

  • contains compound which inhibits the growth of cancer cells - research at the University of Purdue

  • less likely to develop bladder cancer, as well as better 5-year survival rates

  • inhibits growth of breast cancer cells - in-vitro, animal as well as human studies

  • lowers risk of colon cancer - 1990 study published in the Japanese Journal of Cancer Research

  • lowers risk of esophageal cancer (nearly 60%); epidemiological study done on Chinese men and women, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 1994

  • lowers risk of esophageal cancer - epidemiological study

  • inhibits growth of esophageal cancer cells - animal studies

  • reduces risk of lung cancer - epidemiological comparison between Japan and the US

  • slows growth of human lung cancer cells - study at Japan's Kyushu University

  • inhibits growth of human lung cancer cells - in-vitro study

  • better survival rate for ovarian cancer - study conducted in China

  • lowers risk of pancreatic cancer - epidemiological study; effect more pronounced for women

  • lowers risk of pancreatic study - epidemiological study

  • prevents growth of prostate cancer - in-vitro studies, as well as epidemiological studies in China

  • slows growth of prostate cancer - in-vitro study

  • prevents development and growth of skin cancer - some studies

  • lowers risk of stomach cancer - study in Northern Kyushu in Japan

  • inhibits growth of stomach cancer - in-vitro studies; epidemiological studies inconclusive

    Green tea and cholesterol levels

  • lowers Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the 'bad' cholesterol) and increases High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the 'good' cholesterol) - epidemiological studies, as well as studies on humans and animals

    Green tea and cognitive impairment

  • reduces chances of cognitive impairment - 2006 study on elderly Japanese

    Green tea and diabetes

  • prevents diabetes (possibly) - epidemiological studies

  • helps prevent development of diabetes - animal studies

    Green tea and HIV

  • inhibition of HIV virus binding - study mentioned in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

    Green tea and intestinal inflammation

  • inhibits intestinal inflammation (animal study) - Textbook of Gastroenterology

    Green tea and liver disease

  • reduces risk of liver disorders and disease - epidemiological studies

    Green tea increase metabolism - thus possible to use green tea for weight loss

  • using up of more calories - study at the University of Geneva, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in Nov 1999

  • increases metabolic rate, burning of calories and fat oxidation - clinical trials at the University of Geneva and the University of Birmingham

    Green tea and skin damage

  • protective effects on UV-induced skin damage (topical use) - a few sources

    Reaping green tea health benefits - finding a good source of green tea

    As with the health benefits of any food or herb, the green tea health benefits one hopes to reap are only as good as the quality of green tea leaves which one uses. Unfermented green tea leaves are the most unprocessed and best to use. Unfermented and high quality green tea leaves contain more of the health-promoting polyphenols, so be sure to look for such a good source of your green tea.

    Please also remember that green tea is not a miracle food, herb or drink. Even as you drink it regularly to enjoy its numerous health benefits, please do maintain an overall healthy diet and lifestyle.

    Personally, putting the green tea health benefits aside, I find it a refreshing and delicious beverage. It seems to clear my head, too, and makes my stomach feel better. For myself, I have upgraded green tea from 'love it and drink it occasionally' to 'love it and drink it regularly'.

    Brew some for yourself today. Enjoy!

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    Share YOUR Knowledge and Experiences on Green Tea

    Do you have any experiences, knowledge and information on green tea which would be useful to our other readers? These could include its health benefits and medicinal properties; dosages and amounts to take; potential side effects, adverse reactions and contraindications; preparation instructions; reliable and quality sources; background and history; as well as other related topics. We invite you to share your natural health knowledge and experiences on green tea here. If applicable, please discuss the exact brands and dosages which you used.

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