An overview of Green Tea
Made from the leaves and the buds of the Camellia Sinensis plant, green tea continues to be a popular choice for people around the world. In fact, it the most consumed drink, and is second only to water. Originally cultivated in China for medicinal purposes, green tea can be first traced back to the Han Dynasty, which is around 206-220 BC. Demand for the healthy drink only grew over time, with records revealing people started consuming green tea for enjoyment during the Tang Dynasty (600-900 BC), coinciding with the rise of the formal tea ceremony. Soon Japan and India cultivated green tea, and eventually, clipper ships in the 19th-century made the transport of green tea from Asia to Europe and the Americas more common, contributing to green tea becoming a global phenomenon, in the East and West.
Today, green tea is still enjoyed by many people just as it was years ago. However, consumers have a greater selection of green tea as it comes in a variety of forms including bottled, loose-leaf tea, capsules as well as mixed into baked goods and other foods.
Ingredients in Green Tea
While green tea is made from the Camellia Sinensis plant, the process to make it is different from other teas as it does not go through oxidation. Keep in mind that other factors also contribute to different kinds of green tea and the potency and effectiveness, whether it is the time of harvest, growing conditions or processing. For those who prefer a purer tea with less processing, green tea is the optimal tea to drink.
When it comes to natural properties, green tea boasts antioxidants and polyphenols, which have shown to have quite a few health benefits. As for caffeine, the amount of caffeine in green tea really depends on the duration of steeping; so, the longer green tea is steeped, the more caffeine is present. On average, there is roughly 15 to 48 mg of caffeine in an 8 oz cup, which is not an excessive amount.
Benefits of Green Tea
Study after study reveals that green tea can have a positive impact on a variety of ailments. The Chinese centuries ago used green tea in traditional medicine to help treat a variety of conditions from improving digestion to controlling bleeding, among other health problems. While further research is necessary to confirm the health benefits of green tea, over the years, experts and scientists have seen green tea positively impact people’s health and lives. Let’s gave a look at some of the positive ways green tea can enhance people’s health:
Lowers Cholesterol. One potential benefit of consuming green tea is its ability to lower the “bad” cholesterol, or LDL cholesterol, according to expert analysis. One study featuring green tea supplementation shows that green tea did, in fact, lower LDL cholesterol in individuals who participated in a study over a 12-week trial period.
Diabetes Prevention and Management. In recent years, there has been evidence to show that green tea can have a positive impact on getting diabetes under control. Specifically, one study found that people who drank six cups of green tea a day were less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes compared to those people who did not drink green tea. In addition, managing blood sugar levels is where green tea can help since it can reduce fasting glucose levels and insulin levels, which are major indicators of diabetes health. Diabetics should note that to reap the potential benefits of green tea, they should drink it without sugar or sweeteners, or milk. Plain, brewed green tea is the healthiest form for those dealing with diabetes.
Stroke. According to a study published by the American Heart Association in the publication Stroke Journal, drinking green tea on a regular basis can help to reduce the risk of stroke. In addition, compounds in green tea known as catechins are beneficial in regulating blood pressure and helping with better blood flow.
Good for Heart Health. Another published study shows that the consumption of green tea did help to reduce mortality overall from a variety of diseases including cardiovascular disease. Specifically, people who only drank one cup of green tea per day had a higher risk of dying than those individuals who consumed five glasses of green tea per day. Apparently, the quantity of tea people consume makes a big difference in the outcome.
Effective in Cancer Prevention. Laboratory studies according to the National Cancer Institute show that green tea contains polyphenols, which could help to protect damage from harmful ultraviolet rays. Additionally, green tea could potentially help decrease the growth of tumors some studies reveal.
Boosts Brain and Cognitive Functions. When it comes to working memory, research reveals that green tea can enhance it, and shows promise for tackling dementia. Additionally, green tea consumption has shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s diseases in other studies.
Aids in Treating Skin Issues. Green tea consumption shows potential when it comes to addressing common skin conditions such as dandruff and psoriasis, among others. However, benefits are derived when green tea is applied on the skin topically whether from actual green tea leaves or its extracts. Credit the antioxidant and skin-soothing properties to the polyphenols and EGCG, otherwise known as epigallocatechin gallate, which are also great for helping to improve the appearance of the skin.
Relieves Stress. Many people enjoy unwinding with a cup of tea. Green tea has theanine, an amino acid known for promoting relaxation. While more studies need to be done, preliminary research reveals theanine does provide the body with a calming effect when it comes to stress.
Reduces Inflammation. Chronic inflammation shows up in the body in different ways whether it is swollen muscles, weight gain, and it can even lead to more serious issues such as heart disease. The antioxidant EGCG in green tea is what reduces the inflammation so drinking a few cups on a regular basis can help.
Fights Fatigue. Feeling tired or having no energy affects so many people. Fortunately, green tea with its caffeine can provide a little pick-me-up during those inevitable slumps that happen throughout the day. Evidence indicates drinking three to four cups of green tea helps combat fatigue and can also improve individuals’ quality of sleep.
Assists in Weight Loss. Green tea consumption boosts metabolism through the energizing effects of caffeine and catechin. Furthermore, catechins also break down fat excess fat according to studies. However, it is important to note that the impact of green tea on weight loss and weight management was not significant. For people concerned about calories, unsweetened green tea has zero.
Side Effects of Green Tea
Although historically green tea is known to have few side effects and risks, there are some instances when issues may arise, primarily because of the caffeine content. Given that green tea contains caffeine, individuals who have caffeine sensitivity may experience irritability, insomnia, anxiety and an upset stomach when consumed in large quantities over time.
One thing to keep in mind is how green tea interacts with drugs. When green tea is consumed in tandem with other stimulants, it can contribute to high blood pressure, and affect the heart rate as well, so it is important for people to keep this mind. In addition, it is not recommended to consume green tea for patients who are taking blood thinners, because it is known to reduce platelet clotting.
Finally, medical experts recommend that people should not drink green tea if they have a history of heart issues, kidney problems or stomach ulcers.
Dosage of Green Tea
There is no set dosage for green tea–although, there are some health experts who say that drinking four to five cups of green tea a day can be beneficial. If drinking caffeine is an issue, it is not a good idea to have numerous cups during the day.
As for how to consume green tea, there are quite a few options for consumers. Green tea is readily available in single bags, loose leaves, bottled drinks, as well as capsules, and as an ingredient in topical creams and body products. Another popular form of green tea is matcha, which is the powdered version of green tea.
Overall, green tea offers a host of potential benefits and is known to be one of the healthiest drinks on the planet. Readily available, affordable and easy to consume, it is no wonder that people have enjoyed drinking green tea for centuries. Plus, compared to other types of tea, green tea is rich in antioxidants, which is known for being good for the skin and helping to address several types of ailments from skin problems to stress. Specifically, researchers at the University of Maryland have discovered that green tea has the highest concentration of the antioxidant, polyphenol, known for its effectiveness in fighting damaging free radicals that can harm tissues and cells. Ultimately, as more and more people discover the potential benefits of green tea, expect consumption to only continue around the world.