It has become common knowledge that green tea offers many health benefits, but if you’re anything like I was before writing this article, you don’t really know why, beyond its high antioxidant content, that’s the case.
1. Green Tea Has Bioactive Compounds That Can Improve Health
Green tea is loaded with polyphenols such as flavonoids and catechins, which are b0th powerful antioxidants.
One of the most potent components of green tea is an antioxidant known as EGCG, or epigallocatchin-3-gallate, which been found to treat numerous diseases and could be the key to green tea’s many medicinal benefits.
2. Green Tea Can Improve Brain Functioning
Because green tea contains caffeine, drinking it can improve focus and concentration. A cup of green tea does not contain as much caffeine as coffee, however, making it less likely to leave you with the jitters and — if you’re anything like me — the heart palpitations to go along with it.Caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine, which increases the firing of concentration neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. It can also lead to improved mood, reaction time, and memory.
Aside from the caffeine, green tea contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which is able to cross the blood-brain barrier to directly affect the central nervous system by interacting with the brain itself. It can increase the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, which increases dopamine — the “feel good” chemical” — serotonin, and alpha waves within the brain.
Caffeine and L-theanine work synergistically, in fact, and the pairing is particularly good at improving brain function. I’m starting to wonder why I don’t have a warm mug beside me right now…
3. Some of the Antioxidants in Green Tea Can Lower Your Cancer Risk
Oxidative stress contributes to cancer development, and consuming more antioxidants — of which green tea is full — is one way to fight and protect against this damage.
A meta-analysis observational study found that women who drank the most green tea had a 22% lower risk of developing breast cancer, the most common cancer in women.
Another study found that men who drank green tea had a 48% lower risk of developing prostate cancer, the most common cancer in men.
A study of 60,710 Chinese women found that those who were drinking green tea had a 57% lower risk of developing colorectal cancer.
4. Green Tea Can Protect Your Brain in Old Age
Green tea can improve your short-term memory, but more importantly, it can help protect your brain from neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, the two diseases most commonly developed in old age.
Studies conducted in test tubes and animal models have shown that the catechin compounds contained in green tea can have some protective effects on neurons, potentially lowering the risk of the above diseases.
5. Green Tea Can Kill Bacteria
Catechins can do more than just fight against disease, however. Some studies have shown that they can actually kill bacteria and inhibit viruses, which can, in turn, lower your risk of developing infections.
Further studies show how green tea can even combat bad breath, killing the bacteria that causes it in the first place.
6. Green Tea Can Help Reduce Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular diseases, like heart disease and stroke, remain the leading causes of death around the world, and green tea can work against some of the main risk factors that lead to them.
Green tea drastically increases the antioxidant capability of the blood, which protects the LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation, which is part of the paving process toward developing heart disease. Green tea drinkers just so happen to have a 28% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, in fact.
7. Green Tea Increases Fat Burning and Improves Physical Performance
Human trials have shown that green tea increases fat burning by boosting the metabolic rate, with one study showing how green tea increased energy expenditure by 4% in ten healthy men.
Another study among healthy males showed that, when given green tea extract, fat oxidation increased by 17%.
8. Green Tea Can Help You Live Longer
Given the previous information showing how green tea can help lower the risk of various cancers and disease, this may seem obvious, but further research shows that green tea has a direct effect on mortality risk. A study conducted on 40,530 Japanese adults showed that those who drank the most green tea, about five or more cups per day, were significantly less likely to die in an 11-year period than those who did not.
Death of all causes: 25% lower in women, 12% lower in men
Death from cardiovascular disease was: 31% lower in women, 22% lower in men
Death from stroke was: 42% lower in women, 35% lower in men
Another study conducted on 14,001 elderly Japanese people between the ages of 65-84 years found that those who drank the most green tea were 76% less likely to die during the study period of six years.
9. Green Tea Can Lower Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes
Studies have shown that green tea can actually improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.
One study in particular, focused on Japanese individuals, found that those who drank the most green tea had a 42% lower risk of developing type II diabetes.
And in a review comprised of seven different studies and among 286,701 people, those who drank green tea regularly had an 18% lower risk of becoming diabetic.
10. Green Tea Can Help You Lose Weight and Lower Your Risk of Becoming Obese
As stated above, green tea can boost your metabolic rate, which in turn can help you to lose weight. Other studies have shown that drinking green tea can lead to a decrease in fat, particularly around the abdominal area, which is the most unhealthy type of fat to have and often the most difficult to lose.
In a randomized controlled trial conducted on 240 men and women for 12 weeks, for instance, the group that was drinking green tea showed significant decreases in body fat percentage, waist circumference, abdominal fat, and overall body weight.
Given all of the information listed above, it certainly couldn’t hurt to start drinking green tea! Just be sure to choose a high quality organic brand to avoid pesticide exposure and reduce your consumption of fluoride, which is almost always found in tea.