Health Benefits of Green Tea

By | March 25, 2014

The health benefits of green tea can be attributed to its high levels of antioxidants. Green tea is a proven anti-carcinogenic and anti-aging agent, that helps with weight loss, promotes heart health and provides a boost to the immune system that aids in overall health.

Green Tea

Green tea comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant, also the source of normal or black tea. The difference relates to how the leaves are processed.

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Black tea leaves are fermented, causing a change in color, taste and an increase of caffeine and tannins. Green tea is not fermented; leaves are dried, slightly steamed and retain their green color.

Health benefits of green tea can be attributed Catechin Polyphenois or tannins, a flavanoid; it also contains amino acids, xanthine alkaloids, pectin, saccharides, chlorophyll, triterpene saponins as well as Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C and E.

Varieties are defined by length of the tea leaves, method of processing, season of harvest and include:

  • Gyokurocha
  • Sencha
  • Bancha
  • Matcha
  • Houjicha
  • Genmalcha

In addition, you can purchase decaffeinated green tea. Three processes for decaffeinated are:

  • an industrial process that treat leaves with Ethyl Acetate, which drains some antioxidants and vitamins along with the caffeine;
  • a second industrial method processes the tea leaves in water and carbon dioxide, allowing the leaves to retain a greater amount of antioxidants;
  • a domestic process where the tea is steeped in fresh hot water two or three times, decreasing flavor along with caffeine.

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Properties

Green tea is rich in vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants proven to promote health and prolong life expectancy. Health benefits of Green tea include:

  • Anti-Aging properties
  • Anti-Cancer; antioxidants fight free radicals; the tea also restricts blood vessel growth to affected cells, essentially starving them
  • Stimulant; caffeine and tannins lessen fatigue, sleepiness, lethargy, malaise and improves circulation
  • Immune System Enhancement; Catechins prevent bacteria and viruses from attaching to cell walls
  • Anti-Microbial; heightened immune system helps fight against dysentery, diarrhea, tooth decay, indigestion, colitis, colds, cough and flu and other microbial and fungal ailments
  • Astringent; treatment of minor wounds, cuts and abrasions
  • Dental health; protection against tooth decay, loosening of teeth and bad breath
  • Heart health; lowers blood pressure, reduces LDL cholesterol and prevents conditions associated with thickening of blood such as arterial sclerosis, thrombosis, cardiac arrest and cerebral strokes
  • Recovery; the compound epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) hastens recovery process from heart attacks and strokes
  • Anti-diabetic; alkaline properties, when no sugar is added to tea, reduce blood sugar levels; the combination of anti-oxidizing and astringent properties improve pancreatic function, allow for better insulin secretion and improve the body’s use of glucose
  • Weight loss; improves metabolism and decreases fat storage; helps body use energy more efficiently
  • De-intoxicant; green tea with lemon treats hangovers and fatigue associated with too much alcohol and can reduce/treat liver disease
  • Stress-relief, memory; the compound Theanine stimulates alpha waves in the brain, encourages calm awareness and improves overall concentration
  • Anti-Inflammatory; helps arthritis
  • Bone health; maintains bone density, reduces risk of osteoporosis

The health benefits of green tea also increase stamina and endurance, helping over-exerted muscles as well as countering fatigue. Many Martial Arts practitioners in Japan and China drink green tea for this very reason.

Green tea is also a great beverage for rehydration and, according to some researchers, is preferable to water because it hydrates and provides many health advantages.

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Precautions

Very few risks are associated with the consumption of green tea and those that exist are the same as black and white tea. Most risks are associated with caffeine and tannins; adverse effects include:

  • Destruction of Erythrocytes by Triterpene Saponins, causing anemia and fatigue
  • Caffeine Toxicity; leads to high blood pressure, addiction, overdose fatality from extreme caffeine levels, long term negative effects on the liver
  • High consumption of tannins can effect the protein absorption
  • Increase in uric acid from Xanthine Alkaloids, possibly causing gallbladder and kidney stones as well as rheumatism

Other side-effects:

  • insomnia
  • restlessness
  • irritability
  • headaches
  • hypertension
  • palpitations
  • abnormal heart rhythm
  • loss of appetite
  • constipation
  • addiction

The majority of these adverse effects occur in individuals who regularly, over-consume caffeinated tea. Individuals who drink green tea in moderation, especially domestically decaffeinated, are less likely to have unwanted effects.

Summary

The impressive range of health benefits of green tea includes weight loss aid, heart health, increase in energy, stamina and concentration, protection against colds, bacteria and viruses as well as anti-aging and anti-cancer properties. Green tea comes from the same plant as black tea and risks are commonly associated with extreme consumption of caffeine and tannins. In moderation, green tea is a relatively safe, affordable, versatile, healthy drink.