The health benefits of green tea are extensive.
For the majority, adding a few cups of green tea to your diet is a great idea for health improvement – whether or not you need a substitute for coffee, want to slightly boost your metabolism, or just need to drink more fluid in general. Green tea, and its antioxidant profile, provides all sorts of benefits – from weight loss to cancer prevention.
What are the health benefits of green tea?
1 . FAT LOSS
Weight loss is, unsurprisingly, the most popularised benefit of weight loss … the one everyone seems aware of.
This mechanisms behind this are quite impressive. It will give your metabolism a nice boost – certainly significant enough to contribute to a weight loss / body composition plan, over a few weeks. Not only this, green tea also increases beta-oxidation (the use of fatty acids for energy), which means more of your body fat will be used for fuel, as opposed to your carbohydrate stores.
Finally, green tea reduces blood sugar, which will further aid fat loss, and perhaps be useful for those with metabolic syndrome / diabetes type II.
2 . GREEN TEA – A CANCER PREVENTATIVE
Green tea has a role in preventing several types of cancer, including liver, prostate, colon, stomach and throat cancers
This is because it inhibits an enzyme called telomerase. Telomerase is an enzyme that helps sustain the deadly integrity of cancer cells. So by inhibiting it with green tea, our likelihood of developing these cancers is greatly decreased. As well as this, it promotes apoptosis (programmed cell death – of the cancer cells), and has a preventative effect against the angiogenesis, and metastasis (the spreading of cancer from one organ to elsewhere).
Another way green tea may protect against cancer is by reducing the amount of harmful estrogens in our bodies. This will also lead to decreased body fat.
This happens by 2 mechanisms:
- by decreasing the activity of a the aromatase enzyme (an enzyme which converts testosterone into estrogen).
- by increasing levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which can bind to estrogens and therefore reduce circulating levels of free estrogen.
3 . GREEN TEA – POSITIVE EFFECT ON HEART HEALTH, CHOLESTEROL, TRIGLYCERIDES
Again, this is where green tea’s most notable antioxidant – EGCG – comes into play.
EGCG has been shown to reduce one’s likelihood of heart disease. Research in China has demonstrated that subjects who drank green tea were less likely to have high blood pressure.
It also reduces LDL (otherwise known as ‘bad cholesterol’) AND reduces postprandial triglycerides (aka your blood fats after eating)
Another thing to note: green tea reduces fibrinogen.
Why does this matter? Because fibrinogen plays a role in causing blood clots and strokes.
4 . AN ANTI-BACTERIAL
As an anti-bacterial, green tea has a beneficial effect on gastrointestinal flora
Remember that your entire health – AND therefore by extension, how hot you look – is completely reliant on the gut functioning properly. Dysbiosis (or an imbalance of bacteria in the gut) leaves your immune system and digestion severely compromised.
So protect yourself with green tea.
5 . GREEN TEA – POSITIVE EFFECT ON NEUROTRANSMITTERS
‘Theanine’ is a constituent in green tea that induces a calming effect, due to increased secretion of the neurotransmitter GABA.
Why is this important?
Without getting into a scientific explanation of GABA’s role … all you need to know, in a nutshell, is that without GABA, relaxation would be virtually impossible!
Theanine also increases the release of dopamine, another important neurotransmitter, associated with drive, energy, and well-being.
Why is this important?
Without dopamine, your thirst to do anything, your concentration, your sense of happiness and drive, your excitability … would all be non-existent.
6 . NEUROPROTECTIVE EFFECTS
Research into EGCG has increasingly demonstrated this a protective effect against neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, largely due to its protection of neurons from free radicals. As well, EGCG naturally binds to and eliminates (chelates) iron.
7 . STRONGER IMMUNE SYSTEM
Given that EGCG is a potent antioxidant, I guess this benefit sort of goes without saying. But I thought I’d spell it out anyway, just in case there was any confusion!
Additionally, green tea boosts the immune system directly by increasing the number of the body’s T cells.
Fight free radicals and boost the immune system with green tea.
YOUR INTAKE OF GREEN TEA
The interesting thing is that research has shown that only a consistent intake of green tea provides real benefit.
Obviously, “persistent intake” is not always a good thing – especially when it concerns things like stimulants (i.e. fat burners) … Everything in moderation, right. It’s all about balance.
But green tea is another issue. The benefits are huge, but ideally you need to be drinking it daily.
So this is an ideal scenario for those of us who love hot drinks, maybe live in colder climates, and need something to help curb a coffee addiction (… or in the case of the typical Brit – an obsession with the typical tea with semi-skimmed milk + ‘one sugar’).
GREEN TEA AND EGCG
The reason green tea is so healthy is how rich it is in polyphenols. The active substance of particular interest, which we have to thank for all its awesomeness, is EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate).
Don’t let the funny, obscure name of this antioxidant put you off. All you really need to know is that EGCG is the antioxidant which contributes to many of green tea’s benefits, such as cancer prevention. It is a catechin. Catechins are a type of antioxidant, largely present in teas, and belonging to the flavonoid family.
Jack G’s Green Tea Tips:
- If possible, try to get organic tea.
- Use loose tea leaves, if convenient.
- Don’t drink it too late in the day, if you’re sensitive to caffeine (i.e. after 5pm). It may keep you awake at night.
Awesome Summer Drink: ICE TEA RECIPE
- STEP 1: In a large pot, brew a litre (or more) of tea – using green tea, or a mixed selection (i.e. green, white, rooibos).
- STEP 2: Wait for the tea to cool. Strain tea / remove tea bags, and put the pot in the fridge.
- STEP 3: Mix in some stevia powder/liquid to your desired level of sweetness
- STEP 4: Put the tea in a jug. Add ice cubes, and lemon slices.
- STEP 5: Voila!
A healthy ice tea (with no calories or artificial sweeteners – Stevia is a calorie-free non-artificial sweetener).