Green tea, the second most consumed drink in the world, is celebrated as one of the world’s healthiest drinks with research that can back this claim.
You might wonder what’s so special about green tea, and it turns out that these dried leaves have several potential health benefits. These range from weight loss to improvement of brain function, thanks to green tea’s antioxidant content.
Let’s explore green tea’s many potential health benefits and find out just how this wonder drink can work wonders for you.
You might want to enjoy a cup of green tea while reading this.
The Tea on Green Tea
Mainly produced in Asian countries, green tea comes from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant and comes in seven varieties. Each of these have their own distinct flavor profile.
Green, Black, White: What’s the Difference?
There’s a wide variety of teas produced in different parts of the world, from herbal teas to tea mixtures. However, there are five “true teas” which actually come from the Camellia sinensis plant. All five of these differ only in the methods with which they are prepared and processed.
- Green tea.
These are made from unoxidized leaves that are processed (steamed and roasted) immediately after they are harvested.
- Black tea.
Made from oxidized leaves, these are first dried in the sun and involve a lengthier production process compared to green tea.
- Oolong tea
Oolong tea is somewhat of a cross between green and black tea. Unlike the fully oxidized tea leaves used to make black tea, the tea leaves for Oolong tea are only partially oxidized.
- Pu-erh tea
Pu-erh tea is a type of tea that’s fermented. This tea undergoes an aging process before it is dried.
- White tea
Unprocessed tea that makes use of the unoxidized buds of the Camellia sinensis plant. For white tea, some oxidation may occur as it takes at least a day or two to naturally dry the tea leaves.
Green Tea and Its Potential Health Benefits
Why is Green Tea Good for Your Health?
Green tea contains four main catechins: epicatechin (EC), epicatechin-3-gallate (ECG), epigallocatechin (EGC), and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). These are components that possess antimicrobial properties which may help fend off certain diseases and infections.
These catechins and epicatechins belong to flavonoids, which are a group of plant chemicals. According to Harvard Health Publishing, these flavonoids may aid in preventing inflammation, the onset of which may cause plaque to build up inside arteries.
A review published in the journal BioMed Research International highlights the medical and therapeutic potential of green tea, citing its uses in the prevention and treatment of various diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and certain infections.
1. It May Help in Diabetes Management
A meta-analysis suggests that green tea may help control glucose and insulin sensitivity. Green tea can help significantly reduce fasting glucose and hemoglobin levels, as well as fasting insulin concentrations.
Another study’s results suggest that green tea may reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes. A systematic review also supports this claim by showing that drinking green tea reduces the risk of diabetes, along with regular and decaffeinated coffee.
2. Drinking Green Tea May Help Regulate Cholesterol Levels
Laboratory studies show that green tea may reduce cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as body weight in lab rats. Studies like this suggest that green tea’s cholesterol-lowering properties are due to the catechin EGCG. Another review links drinking green tea to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
3. Green Tea May Help Improve Your Brain Function
Green tea contains caffeine and L-theanine, an amino acid. These two combined can help improve your cognitive function. L-theanine alone can positively affect mental alertness and the brain’s increased alpha wave activity.
4. It May Help Preserve Cognitive Function Well into Old Age
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are two of the most common neurodegenerative diseases. The catechins in green tea may help protect your brain even in old age, lowering the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, the most common cause of which are oxidative stress and inflammation.
A review suggests that the polyphenol EGCG may have neuroprotective properties. Another article supports this property, citing that EGCG has shown neuroprotective properties in various models of neurological disorders.
5. Green Tea May Have Antibacterial Properties
According to a literature review, one of green tea’s health benefits is its antibacterial properties. An article shows EGCG’s several antibacterial properties which include inhibiting bacterial growth and its subsequent invasion. The article further suggests that due to this property, EGCG may be used to supplement antibacterial treatment.
Worried about your dental health and the occurrence of bad breath? Green tea may help address decay caused by Streptococcus mutans. The catechins present in green tea may help inhibit the growth of certain bacteria which may cause periodontal diseases.
6. It May Aid in Weight Loss
Green tea may also help reduce body weight by oxidizing fat with the help of the catechin EGCG and by increasing postprandial thermogenesis. Another study suggests that consumption of green tea high in catechins may aid in improving body composition as well as reducing abdominal fatness.
Preparing Green Tea
There’s more to preparing tea than just dropping a teabag into a mug and then pouring hot water over it. The best way to prepare green tea allows you to enjoy a cup and more without the bitter aftertaste:
Choose your green tea.
This versatile tea comes in two different forms: tea bags or loose leaves. When using tea bags, follow the directions on the packaging for brewing time and water temperature. If you’re using loose tea leaves or tea pearls, use a tea strainer or tea ball to catch the leaves.
Prepare your water.
If you want your tea to taste better, try using filtered or purified drinking water. Tap water is fine, but the chemicals used to treat it might slightly affect the tea’s flavor.
The ideal water temperature for green tea is somewhere between 175 to 185 F. Steeping your tea in water that’s too hot might give you a bitter brew.
Steep your tea.
It will only take around 3-5 minutes for green tea to steep. While the strength of the tea depends on your preferences, steeping it for too long might break down green tea’s delicate flavor profile and result in a more bitter taste.
Flavor it your way.
Consume it as it is or add a dash of spice or a sweetener of your choice. You can also serve it hot, iced, or at room temperature.
If you’re looking to make a healthy change in your life, you can start by making green tea a part of your daily habit.
Apart from its numerous potential health benefits ranging from protecting your cognitive functions and managing diabetes to aiding with weight loss, it’s easy to find in supermarkets and health food stores. This makes it convenient to procure and prepare as your next drink of choice.