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Health Benefits of Green Tea

Health Benefits of Green Tea
Green tea is made from the leaves from Camellia sinensis that have undergone minimal oxidation during processing.

One little leaf of green tea offers huge health benefits, especially when you consider its size. Multiple studies have shown that there are many health benefits that green tea offers.

Most studies base their findings on the typical Asian consumption of green tea of three cups a day. Also, it should be mentioned that in Asia, traditionally the same tea leaves are reused.

Some herbalists and nutritionists believe that this aids in rehydrating the body, as green tea can have a slightly dehydrating effect.

Health Benefits

According to Mateljan, studies have shown that green tea may be beneficial in a number of conditions such as: multiple sclerosis, cancer, alzheimer’s disease, parkinson’s diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, and impaired immune function.

It has also shown protective qualities against heart diseases, esophageal, prostrate, breast, lung, colon, and ovarian cancers· It’s also able to face tooth decay, hypertension, brain tumors in children, gallstones, kidney disease, and osteoporosis.

Furthermore, other evident benefits that it: reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood, and improves the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol.

Moreover, it raises metabolism and increases fat oxidation (weight loss)· it also thins blood and prevents clotting.

Scientists found that it assists in recovery after a heart attack, besides helping in minimizing brain damage after a stroke. It improves the effectiveness of cancer drugs while reducing their side effects, improves insulin sensitivity in adult onset diabetes (Type II), builds bones, protects liver from harmful substances, and increases exercise endurance.

Amazingly, a 2006 Japanese study found that women who consumed 3 to 5 cups of green tea a day enjoyed a 23% lowered risk of dying from any cause, while men enjoyed a 12% lowered risk. (Kuriyama et al).

Why It Works

Both flavonoids and EGCG are anti-oxidants and they promote health by scavenging for free radicals before they can cause damage to the body.

EGCG is believed to be responsible for green tea’s cancer preventing abilities. One cup of green tea provides 20-35 mg of EGCG. (Mateljan).

Is Green Tea for Every One?

Green tea contains caffeine, although less then coffee. The gunpowder varieties of green tea are high in caffeine, so if you are sensitive to caffeine, be sure to select a green tea with the least amount of caffeine. You can also brew the tea for less time.

There are some conditions and situations in which you would not want to drink green tea. The tannins found in green tea (which make it taste bitter) can decrease the absorption of certain drugs, causing them to be less effective.

The caffeine in green tea can also cause an increase in absorption of certain drugs, causing the dose amount to be increased.

Therefore, green tea can prove to be dangerous if you are taking drugs containing ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or theophylline.

Women who drink large amounts of green tea right before or during pregnancy increase the risk of their baby being born with spina bifida or other neural tube disorders associated with folic acid deficiency, due to green tea’s ability to decrease folic acid levels.

Also, if you are anemic or prone to iron deficiency, you should limit your intake of green tea to one cup a day due to green tea’s ability to interfere with iron absorption.

How to Select the Best Green Tea

China boasts the largest variety of green teas ranging from the Gunpowder variety to the award winning Pan Long Yin Hao, for its complex brew of multiple flavors.

There are various types of green tea. The most notable differences are the teas from Japan, China and India.

The world’s first organic green tea was produced in India. There is no clear agreement as to which green tea is the best.

The different varieties found in these three countries are like all foods and are enjoyed for many factors. The teas from India, most notably from Darjeeling, are noted for its robust flavor, while still being light. The best Chinese tea is thought to be harvested during the early spring.

China boasts the largest variety of green teas ranging from the Gunpowder variety to the award winning Pan Long Yin Hao, for its complex brew of multiple flavors.

In Japan, the best teas are those coming from Shizuoka and Uji. Sencha is the most common green tea in Japan and is high in vitamin C and has is slightly bitter and astringent (drying) in taste.

I prefer my green tea to be less astringent, with a light and sweet taste. I also prefer organic green tea, especially when it is grown in China.

This criteria means I usually go with an Indian Darjeeling tea. The nutritional content of the green tea will vary according to growing conditions.

There are also alcohol-free extracts as well as supplements available for those who are interested in a standardized form of green tea, usually used for medicinal purposes to treat a particular disease.

However, a nicely brewed cup of green tea is the best form of prevention.

How to Brew a Cup of Green Tea

I prefer loose leaf tea to bagged green tea as I can control the amount of tea I use. If you want to brew a small cup of tea, say 5 ounces, you would use 3 grams of loose leaf tea and for a larger cup of 8 oz, use 4 grams of loose leaf tea. However, a cup of green tea begins with water.

Avoid using tap or distilled water. Instead use a spring or filtered water. You never want to use boiling water to pour over your green tea.

Allow it to just come to a boil (when bubbles begin to form at the bottom of the kettle or pan). Let the tea seep for 30 seconds to one minute.

Darjeeling and Nilgiri teas may take up to a few minutes to brew while Chinese Dragonwell can take up to seven minutes to infuse.

The most important thing to remember is to select a tea that you enjoy and remember green tea is not a replacement for water.

This article was first published in 2009 and is currently republished for its importance.


References:

Kuriyama, S. et al. “Green Tea Consumption and Mortality Due to Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer and all Causes in Japan.” The Journal of the American Medical Associaion 296:10:1255-65. 2006. Accessed 23 Aug. 2009.

Mateljan, George. “Green Tea.” The World’s Healthiest Foods. 2007. Accessed 23 Aug. 2009.

Navarro-Peran, E.; Cabezas-Herrera, J.; Garcia-Canovas, F.; Durrant, MC.; Thorneley, RN.; Rodriguez-Lopez, JN. “The Antifolate Activity of Tea Catechins.”Cancer Research. 15;65:6:2059-64. 2005. Accessed 23 Aug. 2009.

O’Connor, Anahad .”The Claim: Green Tea Helps Prevent Cancer.” The New YorkTimes. 29 Nov. 2005. Accessed 23 Aug. 2009.

Ouyang P, Peng WL, Lai WY, Xu AL. “Green Tea Polyphenols Inhibit Low Density Lipoprotein-Induced Proliferation of Rat Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells.” Di Yi Jun Yi Da Xue Xue Bao. 24:9:975-9. 2004. Accessed 23 Aug. 2009.

Before starting any program check with your doctor or health care practitioner.


About Anisa Abeytia

Anisa Abeytia, B.A. USC , M.A., Stanford is an integrative health specialist currently pursuing a M.S. in Holistic Nutrition. Over the past ten years Anisa has pursued various fields of holistic and traditional medicine. She has studied at the oldest herbal school in the United States and pursued a two year certificate program in Islamic Healing. She writes regularly on the topics of health and nutrition. She maintains the website Women's Healing Circle, a site dedicated to the natural health of women and their families.

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