Recent medical literature is full of contradictory reports on certain foods and drinks. One study reports coffee is good for your heart; another says it’s bad because it causes hypertension. One report sings the praises of lean red meat; another says all red meat is bad. But when it comes to green tea, there’s only good news. You’ve probably heard about some of the many health benefits associated with this drink, and maybe thought you’d give it a try sometime soon, maybe next month … or next year. Make a point to add green tea your diet today. Numerous studies have shown that drinking green tea on a regular basis can help you lose weight, avoid many diseases and live a longer, healthier life. Here are five great health benefits of this amazing drink.
5. Green Tea is a Powerful Antioxidant
Green tea is a tremendous source of catechins, a potent antioxidant. In layman’s terms, green tea and other antioxidants act as a type of law enforcement in your body, neutralizing dangerous free radicals that result from normal activities such as eating and breathing. These free radicals are compounds that can cause cell death, DNA damage, premature aging, many diseases, immune system deficiencies and other problems. A cup or two of green tea each day could make you healthier both today and years down the road.
4. Green Tea Can Help You Lose Weight
Green tea consumption has been strongly linked to weight loss. One 2008 study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that healthy young men who took green tea extract and then exercised had a 17 percent higher rate of fat oxidation than when they took a placebo. That may not sound like much, but over the course of weeks and months, it can add up to substantial weight loss. There is some debate among scientists about the role green tea’s caffeine content plays in this metabolic boost, but studies have shown even decaffeinated green tea can help weight loss. However, it’s important to note that the process of decaffeination leeches roughly half of green tea’s antioxidant capacity.
3. Green Tea Instantly Boosts Heart Health
Green tea advocates lament the fact that some people don’t notice immediate results from drinking green tea, so they stop (“I drank green tea for an entire week and didn’t lose any weight!”) For those who doubt the immediate health impact of green tea, consider this: An often-cited study outlined in a 2008 issue of the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation found that healthy test subjects who drank green tea showed immediate improvement in blood flow. Other studies have linked green tea consumption with lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol, and higher levels of good HDL cholesterol, as well as a lower incidence of long-term cardiovascular problems.
2. Green Tea Could Help Prevent Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes has been on the rise in recent years in the United States, fueled by a rise in obesity and poor dietary habits. Better education efforts about diet and exercise could help reduce this problem, but green tea could be part of the solution for many people. According to the American Diabetes Association website, a 2006 Japanese study found that “When other factors were accounted for, researchers found that the more green tea and coffee participants drank, the less likely they were to get diabetes.”
1. Green Tea is a Powerful Cancer Fighter
As noted above, green tea not only helps fight the oxidative stresses in your body that can cause cancer, studies have shown it can improve the long-term survival rate for some cancer patients. Rather than recount a lengthy list of these studies, here’s a great link to a University of Maryland Medical Center report outlining green tea’s efficacy as a cancer fighter. It should be noted that what works for some patients and certain cancers will not be effective for other patients.
So how much green tea do you need to reap the aforementioned benefits? Any amount is better than none at all, but generally speaking, one to two cups a day is a good goal to start. Also, green tea extracts sold in health-food stores have not been tested to the same extent as green tea, so medical experts recommend sticking to the drink for maximum benefit. Finally, there are some single-serving bottled green teas on the market that are loaded with sugar, which of course is not good. Bottom line: stick to the stuff you can brew at home.
Arthur Weinstein has written on health and fitness issues for several websites, including Livestrong.com