Health Benefits of Green Tea
“All green tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, but the final aromas and tastes differ depending on where the leaves are grown and how they’re produced,” says Mary Lou Heiss, coauthor of The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook: A Guide to the World’s Best Teas.
More surprising? In Asia, green tea is a common recipe ingredient, which is a great—and sneaky!—way to incorporate this nutritional powerhouse into your diet. Here’s a quick primer on six different varieties, plus ideas for how to cook with each.
*WHY GO GREEN?
Green tea doesn’t oxidize (which is how black and oolong teas are made), so it contains more health-boosting antioxidants called catechins—especially the cancer fighter epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). (Source: Lisa Boalt Richardson, author of Tea with a Twist: Entertaining & Cooking with Tea)
Green tea has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to treat everything from headaches to depression.
The leaves are supposedly richer in antioxidants than other types of tea because of the way they are processed.
Green tea contains B vitamins, folate (naturally occurring folic acid), manganese, potassium, magnesium, caffeine and other antioxidants, notably catechins.
All types of tea – green, black and oolong – are produced from the Camellia sinensis plant using different methods. Fresh leaves from the plant are steamed to produce green tea, while the leaves of black tea and oolong involve fermentation.
Green tea is alleged to boost weight loss, reduce cholesterol, combat cardiovascular disease, and prevent cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
It is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that have powerful effects on the body. This includes improved brain function, fat loss, a lower risk of cancer and many other incredible benefits. Here are 10 health benefits of green tea that have been confirmed in human research studies.
Green tea, native to China and India, has been consumed and hailed for its health benefits for centuries globally, but has only recently gained popularity in the US.
Tea is considered the most consumed beverage in the world behind water, however 78% of the tea consumed worldwide is black and only about 20% is green.1
All types of tea except herbal tea are brewed from the dried leaves of theCamellia sinensis bush. The level of oxidation of the leaves determines the type of tea.
Green tea is made from un-oxidized leaves and is one of the less processed types of tea (with white tea the least) and therefore contains one of the most antioxidants and beneficial polyphenols.
Green tea was used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine to control bleeding and heal wounds, aid digestion, improve heart and mental health and regulate body temperature.4 Recent studies have shown green tea can potentially have positive effects on everything from weight loss to liver disorders to type 2 diabetes.
Nutritional breakdown of green tea
Unsweetened brewed green tea is a zero calorie beverage. The caffeine contained in a cup of tea can vary according to length of infusing time and the amount of tea infused.
Green tea is becoming increasingly popular in the US.
In general, green tea contains a relatively small amount of caffeine (approximately 20-45 milligrams per 8 oz cup), compared with black tea which contains about 50 milligrams and coffee with 95 milligrams per cup.2
Green tea is considered one of the world’s healthiest drinksand contains one of the highest amount of antioxidants of any tea. Researchers commonly speak highly of green tea – Christopher Ochner, PhD, a research scientist in nutrition at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, is quoted by health website WebMD as saying, “it’s the healthiest thing I can think of to drink.”
The natural chemicals called polyphenols in tea are what are thought to provide its anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic effects.
Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is the most studied and bioactive polyphenol in tea and has been shown to be the most effective at eliminating free radicals.1, 4
Green tea is approximately 20% to 45% polyphenols by weight, of which 60% to 80% are catechins such as EGCG.1 These catechins are antioxidants that are said to possibly help with fighting and preventing cell damage.