The Chinese have known about Green tea as a powerful medication for at least 4000 years. According to legend, tea was discovered by Shen Nung, a Chinese emperor. Some tea leaves accidentally fell into boiling water, and he tried it and found it invigorating. Green tea became part of the Chinese diet, and, over time, people began to discover that there are many important health benefits associated with consumption of green tea. Now, recent medical studies in both Asia and the West are providing a scientific basis for the claim that drinking green tea has very significant health benefits.
Green tea, like black tea, is made from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis. The difference between the three main types of tea is the way that they are produced. Green tea is unfermented tea meaning that the leaves used for green tea are steamed soon after been plucked in order to prevent the oxidation of the leaves. In this way the leaves remain green and the active substances within the leaves retain their qualities. Black teas, on the other hand, are made from fermented leaves and as a result have less nutritional and enzyme content as the green tea.
Modern science has in recent times been able to demonstrate that green tea is beneficial to one’s health. Green tea contains high levels of antioxidants called polyphenols, or flavonoids. The antioxidants help your body fight against free radicals which cause damage to cells and tissues in your body. The antioxidant activity of tea has been compared to that of fruit and vegetables in a number of studies. One such study concluded that consuming three cups of tea a day produced a similar amount of antioxidants as eating six apples.
While all tea is healthy to drink, green tea contains the highest level of flavonoids and has the most health benefits. Benefits of drinking green tea include:
- Digestive and respiratory health.
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Protects against high blood pressure
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Helps with arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory effect
- Increased bone density
Weight loss is another area that is attracting huge attention. Recent research has suggested that an extract from green tea may speed up fat oxidation. One study showed that after 12 weeks of high-dose green tea extract, there was a significant reduction in weight and waist circumference, along with a consistent decrease in both total and LDL cholesterol. Much more research needs to be conducted in this area but the signs are certainly very encouraging.
- Chen I-J, Liu C-Y, Chiu J-P, Hsu C-H. Therapeutic effect of high-dose green tea extract on weight reduction: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Clinical Nutrition. 2016;35(3):592-599. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2015.05.003.
- Cooper R, Morré DJ, Morré DM. Medicinal Benefits of Green Tea: Part I. Review of Noncancer Health Benefits. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2005;11(3):521-528. doi:10.1089/acm.2005.11.521.