Calories in Green Tea - Going Au Naturel

Green tea is popularly used as a weight loss supplement as it is believed to increase metabolism rate and burn calories faster. An added benefit is that there are zero calories in green tea so people can drink two or three cups a day without having to worry about additional calories.

Green tea has a long history of traditional medicinal uses but it has only been recent that science is catching up with evidence to support these health claims. Tea contains polyphenols called catechins, specifically EGCG, which are reportedly the active substances that burns calories. In green tea, these catechins are preserved the most since it is the least processed variety of all teas. A recent review of clinical trials published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed a modest decrease in body mass index, weight and waist circumference in participants given green tea catechins and caffeine.

Besides its most studied role in weight loss, green tea has been used in a variety of health conditions. Green tea has been shown to lower total cholesterol and raise HDL, the “good” fat. A proposed mechanism as seen in an animal study is that green tea blocks the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines and promotes its excretion. Studies are also being conducted to find out if polyphenols can prevent certain forms of cancer. Green tea has traditionally been used to control diabetes. Small clinical trials support this use since it decreases HbA1C, a marker of glucose control in patients with diabetes.

However, consumers may take these bits of information and unwisely apply it by buying sweetened green tea drinks that are widely available in supermarkets or restaurants. If drunk plain, there are no calories in green tea. However, if sugar or sweeteners are added, the calorie count can go as high as 135. Harvard School of Public Health has found that the more popular iced tea drinks should actually be drunk sparingly as they contained more calories and sugar. Thus, going au naturel with green tea is the healthier option. In a recipe provided by the Harvard School of Public Health, it is suggested that mint leaves can be added to reduce the bitter taste of green tea while adding lemon and lime can add flavor.

Aside from leaves and tea drinks, green tea is also marketed in the forms of extracts, powders and capsules. Studies are also being conducted to test the efficacy of these forms.

Although most experts are hesitant to fully recommend green tea as a weight loss supplement since evidence is still insufficient, most consumers can safely take it. However, due to its caffeine content, green tea may be contraindicated in patients with heart or kidney disease, stomach ulcers and anxiety problems. It can also cause significant interactions with medications such as certain antibiotics and aspirin. Overall, it is still a healthy drink as there are no calories in green tea especially unflavored ones. Consumers are advised to consult a physician if they plan to take it in larger amounts for the purpose of weight loss.