I’ve known green tea had multiple health benefits for years, but in putting together this post I was surprised to realize it was even more of a powerhouse than I’d given it credit for….
|“Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one.” (Ancient Chinese Proverb)|
THE MIRACLE OF GREEN TEA
Is any other food or drink reported to have as many health benefits as green tea? The Chinese have known about the medicinal benefits of green tea since ancient times, using it to treat everything from headaches to depression. In her bookGreen Tea: The Natural Secret for a Healthier Life, Nadine Taylor states that green tea has been used as a medicine in China for at least 4,000 years. Today, scientific research in both Asia and the west is providing hard evidence for the health benefits long associated with drinking green tea. For example, in 1994 the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published the results of an epidemiological study indicating that drinking green tea reduced the risk of esophageal cancer in Chinese men and women by nearly sixty percent. University of Purdue researchers recently concluded that a compound in green tea inhibits the growth of cancer cells. There is also research indicating that drinking green tea lowers total cholesterol levels, as well as improving the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to bad (LDL) cholesterol. To sum up, here are just a few medical conditions in which drinking green tea is reputed to be helpful:
What makes green tea so special?
The secret of green tea lies in the fact it is rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a powerful anti-oxidant: besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, it kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. It has also been effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels, and inhibiting the abnormal formation of blood clots. The latter takes on added importance when you consider that thrombosis (the formation of abnormal blood clots) is the leading cause of heart attacks and stroke. Links are being made between the effects of drinking green tea and the “French Paradox.”
For years, researchers were puzzled by the fact that, despite consuming a diet rich in fat, the French have a lower incidence of heart disease than Americans. The answer was found to lie in red wine, which contains resveratrol, a polyphenol that limits the negative effects of smoking and a fatty diet. In a 1997 study, researchers from the University of Kansas determined that EGCG is twice as powerful as resveratrol, which may explain why the rate of heart disease among Japanese men is quite low, even though approximately seventy-five percent are smokers.
Why don’t other Chinese teas have similar health-giving properties? Green, oolong, and black teas all come from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. What sets green tea apart is the way it is processed. Green tea leaves are steamed, which prevents the EGCG compound from being oxidized. By contrast, black and oolong tea leaves are made from fermented leaves, which results in the EGCG being converted into other compounds that are not nearly as effective in preventing and fighting various diseases.
New evidence is emerging that green tea can even help dieters. In November, 1999, theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the results of a study at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. Researchers found that men who were given a combination of caffeine and green tea extract burned more calories than those given only caffeine or a placebo. Green tea can even help prevent tooth decay! Just as its bacteria-destroying abilities can help prevent food poisoning, it can also kill the bacteria that causes dental plaque. Meanwhile, skin preparations containing green tea – from deodorants to creams – are starting to appear on the market.
To date, the only negative side effect reported from drinking green tea is insomnia due to the fact that it contains caffeine. However, green tea contains less caffeine than coffee: there are approximately thirty to sixty mg. of caffeine in six – eight ounces of tea, compared to over one-hundred mg. in eight ounces of coffee.
Personal Note: Read this article for more contraindications for drinking green tea: http://www.curejoy.com/content/green-tea-side-effects-who-must-not-consume/
And more scientific evidence of green tea’s benefits, this time from Erai Beckmann and The Future of Health Now Newsletter…
Green tea catechins linked to weight loss study:
Antioxidant compounds in green tea could help promote exercise-induced abdominal fat loss, according to a new study from the American Society of Nutrition.
Effectiveness of green tea on weight reduction in obese
This study was undertaken to investigate the effects of green tea on weight reduction in obese Thais. A randomized, controlled trial involving 60 obese subjects (body mass index, BMI > 25 kg/m2) was conducted.bv
Drink Green Tea For Healthy Teeth And Gums
A study recently published in the Journal of Periodontology, uncovered yet another benefit of green tea consumption. Researchers found that routine intake of green tea may also help promote healthy teeth and gums. The study analyzed the periodontal health of 940 men, and found that those who regularly drank green tea had superior periodontal health than subjects that consumed less green tea.
UCLA-led study first to show green tea helps prevent chronic gastritis
Green-tea drinkers suffer chronic gastritis half as often as nondrinkers, according to a new study led by researchers at the UCLA School of Public Health and Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCLA. The findings are the first to link green tea to lower rates of chronic gastritis.
Green tea compound may be a therapy for people with rheumatoid arthritis, University of Michigan study finds
The study, presented April 29 at the Experimental Biology 2007 in Washington, D.C., looks at a potent anti-inflammatory compound derived from green tea. Researchers found that the compound – called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) – inhibited the production of several molecules in the immune system that contribute to inflammation and joint damage in people with rheumatoid arthritis
Green Tea Extract Shows Promise in Leukemia Trials
“We found not only that patients tolerated the green tea extract at very high doses, but that many of them saw regression to some degree of their chronic lymphocytic leukemia,” says Tait Shanafelt, M.D., Mayo Clinic hematologist and lead author of the study
Green tea study offers hope of AIDS drug
The scientists from the University of Sheffield and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston found that as little as two cups of green tea could provide enough of the chemical epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) to inhibit HIV cell binding by 40%.
Green tea slashes heart disease death risk: Study
Seven cups of green tea a day over the long-term may massively reduce the risk of death from colorectal cancer and heart disease, suggests a new study from Japan. Compared to people who drank less than one cup a day, seven or more cups of green tea a day may reduce the risk of dying from heart disease by a whopping 75 per cent, report scientists from Okayama University in the Annals of Epidemiology.
Green Tea Extract Boosts Exercise Endurance 8-24%
A new study tested the effect of regularly taking green tea extract (GTE) and found that over 10 weeks, endurance exercise performance was boosted up to 24% with 0.5% GTE supplementation, and 8% with 0.2% by-weight addition to food. Reporting in the online edition of the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology researchers at the Biological Sciences Laboratories of Kao Corp., Tochigi, Japan, said the 8-24% increase in swimming time-to-exhaustion was “accompanied by lower respiratory quotients and higher rates of fat oxidation.”
New study finds green tea extract may prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
Sponsored by A. Holliday & Company, the study was performed by Dr. Stephane Bastianetto at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, McGill University in Montreal.
Here’s an article from Natural News by John Phillip that may help explain how green tea is actually able to help prevent Alzheimer’s…
(NaturalNews) Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by an unnatural accumulation of amyloid plaque aggregates around nerve synapses that block the transmission of electrical and chemical transmitters that allow the brain to retain a high level of cognitive function and to store and retain memories. Millions of middle aged and older Americans suffer from some stage of Alzheimer’s disease, as the illness continues to escalate at an epidemic rate. It is projected that the prevalence will nearly quadruple in the next 50 years, by which time approximately one in 45 Americans will be afflicted with the disease.
The past decade has uncovered a small handful of natural, bioactive compounds that easily cross the blood-brain barrier where they have been found to alter the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers from the University of Leeds in the UK have determined that natural chemicals found in green tea and red wine may disrupt a key step of the Alzheimer’s disease pathway. Publishing in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, scientists have identified the process which allows harmful clumps of protein to latch onto brain cells, causing them to die.
Green tea and red wine extracts impede amyloid formation to prevent Alzheimer’s development
Scientists understand that amyloid proteins in the brain clump together to form toxic, sticky balls of varying shapes. These amyloid balls latch onto the surface of nerve cells in the brain by attaching to proteins on the cell surface called prions, ultimately causing nerve cells to malfunction and die. Study co-author Dr. Jo Rushworth commented, “We wanted to investigate whether the precise shape of the amyloid balls is essential for them to attach to the prion receptors, like the way a baseball fits snugly into its glove.”
The team wanted to determine if it was possible to prevent the amyloid balls from binding to prions by manipulating their shape and stop the cells from dying. Scientists formed amyloid balls in a test tube and then added them to human and animal brain cells. Study authors concluded, “when we added the extracts from red wine and green tea, which recent research has shown to re-shape amyloid proteins, the amyloid balls no longer harmed the nerve cells.”
Researchers determined that the bioactive compounds in green tea and red wine (EGCG and resveratrol) distorted the shape of the amyloid balls, preventing them from binding with prions and disrupting cellular function. Complimentary studies have also determined that curcumin, the active compound in the curry spice turmeric, crossed the delicate blood-brain barrier to halt the advancement of dementia. Health-minded individuals should consume green tea and red wine or take standardized supplements regularly to help prevent the initial development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
PERSONAL NOTE: For more all-natural ways to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s, read these Self-help Health posts:
Green Tea Extract Increases Metabolism, May Aid in Weight Loss
In a study reported on in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was found that green tea extract resulted in a significant increase in energy expenditure (a measure of metabolism), plus also had a significant effect on fat oxidation.
Green and Black Tea Studies
The research, appearing in the April 21-25 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , adds to the growing list of health benefits researchers have attributed to tea. Previous research has found that the drink can help ward off heart disease and cancer, probably due to its abundance of antioxidants.
Green Tea Compounds Reduced Prostate Cancer Markers, Study
US researchers found that men with prostate cancer who consumed a mix of polyphenols found in green tea experienced a significant reduction in serum markers such as PSA, VGF and VEGF that predict the progression of prostate cancer.
The study was the work of Dr James A Cardelli, professor and director of basic and translational research in the Feist-Weiller Cancer Center, LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Louisiana, and colleagues and is published in the 19 June issue of Cancer Prevention Research.
Green tea fights glaucoma: Study
According to the study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, catechins, commonly found in green tea, can penetrate into the eye tissue, protecting it from glaucoma and other eye diseases
Green tea could modify the effect of cigarette smoking on lung cancer risk
Drinking green tea could modulate the effect of smoking on lung cancer. Results of this hospital-based, randomized study conducted in Taiwan were presented at the AACR-
IASLC Joint Conference on Molecular Origins of Lung Cancer, held here from Jan. 11-14, 2010
The Miracle of Green Tea
For example, in 1994 the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published the results of an epidemiological study indicating that drinking green tea reduced the risk of esophageal cancer in Chinese men and women by nearly sixty percent. University of Purdue researchers recently concluded that a compound in green tea inhibits the growth of cancer cells
*Thanks to http://www.aoimatcha.com/aoi_scientific_studies.htm for compiling these references!
It also looks like green tea is great at extending longevity. Here’s a quote from an article by Karen Sanders, staff writer for NaturalHealth365:
How does green tea extend the quality of our lives?
Studies on longevity and green tea demonstrate a link between green tea and longer lifespan. In fact, there was an 11-year study of over 40,000 Japanese adults, in which participants who drank over 5 cups of green tea a day were less likely to die during the course of the study. Female green tea drinkers had a 23 percent lower death rate; men who drank green tea had a 12 percent lower death rate.
For maximum health benefits, buy a high-quality brand of organic green tea, and brew it yourself, letting it steep about 3 minutes. To increase green tea’s detoxifying abilities even more, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Research has shown that citrus juice in tea makes the antioxidants more accessible to your body. Milk, on the other hand, detracts from green tea’s antioxidant effects.
Naturally, we suggest you ask your doctor before using green tea – especially if you are taking anti-coagulants – because green tea can reduce their effectiveness. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, don’t make radical changes to your diet without consulting an experienced healthcare provider.
Editor’s note: You may want to research green tea extracts to get those polyphenols and ECGC compounds without fluoride – especially if you’re not into drinking tea. Keep in mind, most scientific research has been done with green tea extracts – which has been shown to kill cancer cells without harming healthy cells.
So, how much green tea should you drink? Well, it seems the answer can vary, but here are some guidelines from Rhonda Parkinson at About.com…
There are as many answers to this question as there are researchers investigating the natural properties of green tea. For example, Herbs for Health magazine cites a Japanese report stating that men who drank ten cups of green tea per day stayed cancer-free for three years longer than men who drank less than three cups a day (there are approximately 240 – 320 mg of polyphenols in three cups of green tea). Meanwhile, a study by Cleveland’s Western Reserve University concluded that drinking four or more cups of green tea per day could help prevent rheumatoid arthritis, or reduce symptoms in individuals already suffering from the disease.
And Japanese scientists at the Saitama Cancer Research Institute discovered that there were fewer recurrances of breast cancer, and the disease spread less quickly, in women with a history of drinking five cups or more of green tea daily. It gets more confusing. A University of California study on the cancer-preventative qualities of green tea concluded that you could probably attain the desired level of polyphenols by drinking merely two cups per day. On the other hand, a company selling a green tea capsule formula insists that ten cups per day are necessary to reap the maximum benefits. How can you make sense of these conflicting claims? Given all the evidence, it is probably safe to plan on drinking four to five cups of green tea per daily. If you’re a real devotee, by all means drink more; but whether or not you’ll derive added health benefits remains to be determined by further research.
How to Brew a Cup of Green Tea
Producing the perfect cup of green tea is a tricky process. If not handled properly, those same polyphenols that provide health benefits can ruin the flavor, making the tea taste “grassy.” It’s particularly important not to over-brew green tea. While it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for each variety of green tea, here are some general instructions:
- Use one tea bag, or 2 – 4 grams of tea*, per cup.
- Fill a kettle with cold water and bring to a boil.
- After unplugging the kettle, allow it to stand for up to 3 minutes.
- Pour the heated water over the tea bag or tea, and allow it to steep for up to 3 minutes. If using a tea bag, remove the bag.
- Allow the tea to cool for three more minutes.
*One to two teaspoons, depending on the variety of green tea you are brewing.
More Green Tea Articles
Traditional Chinese Brewing Method – Demonstrates the traditional Chinese method of brewing green tea; with photos.
A Cup of Tea – This article explains how the polyphenols in green tea act on cancer cells.
Green Tea for Weight Loss? From Cathy Wong, About.com Guide to Alternative Medicine
PERSONAL NOTE: Don’t forget that you want to let your boiling water cool just a tad before pouring it over your tea bag or leaves, otherwise the extreme heat will destroy some of the “good stuff.” And speaking of good stuff, did you know that white tea, a younger, more delicate, less processed version of green tea, has even more anti-oxidants than green? Find out more here: http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/nutrition/nutrition+tips/white+tea+vs+green+tea,13045
Personally, I don’t really enjoy the taste of green tea, but I do like the Chai Green from Yogi Teas, brewed with very little water (just enough to give the bag something to steep in), with about 1 cup heated unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 tsp xylitol, 1 tsp coconut oil (or more, since it’s so darn good for you!) and 6 – 8 drops of Stevia Leaf Vanilla Creme extract added. Tastes yummy! Plus, with chai you are getting the added benefit of health-promoting spices and herbs such as ginger, cinnamon, black pepper and clove bud.
FYI, I thought I remembered reading a few years ago about how adding milk or cream to tea or coffee actually lessened their anti-oxidant benefits, and one of the articles above mentions something similar. I googled to see what I could find on the subject and came up with this post, which does indeed support what I remembered. It also mentions that using soy milk has the same effect….has to do with a certain kind of protein.
I’m hoping that’s not the case with the almond milk I love using in my chai latte recipe, but since almonds are high in protein, I don’t know if it’s the same type of protein that causes dairy and soy to have a deleterious effect. If anyone knows the answer, please let me know.
And one other thing to be aware of is that it pays to buy bagged tea that is high quality (preferably organic), and from eco-minded companies, to help avoid bags that are made from bleached material or that contain other substances that would detract from the health benefits of the tea itself. Also, if you’re not a tea drinker, you can always try green tea extract and capsules and side-step the bag issue entirely.
Vitacost.com, one of my favorite on-line places, carries a good selection of organic green (including Yogi Organic Chai Green) and white teas, capsules and extracts at discount prices, plus unsweetened vanilla almond milk, xylitol and vanilla creme stevia for making the recipe I shared. If you are going to be shopping at Vitacost again, sign up for a free account at eBates.com beforehand, if you don’t already have one. That way you can use the eBates portal and earn cash back on your purchases. Plus, if you are new to Vitacost and spend a certain amount (I believe it’s $25), you will get a $10 coupon to use; eBates also gives a gift card or some other “prize” when you place your first order of $25 or more. How does it get any better than that?!
iHerb.com is another good discount place to shop (use code CJG192 if you are a new customer and spend more than $40 and you will get $10 off ). Shipping is free on orders of $20 or more, plus there are great Specials and Trial Offers sections.
And of course there are many other teas that have multiple health benefits, too! Find out more in these Self-help Health posts, plus sign up for The Republic of Tea’s free 6-part e-mail series on how tea can enrich your life:
p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts, and tell your friends to do the same. Also check out my website’s To Your Health page and Evolution Made Easier blog for more helpful health tips, tools and information.
Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.