Green Tea Benefits - Is Green Tea a Miracle Drink or a Scam?

Considered to be one of the healthiest beverages available today, green tea’s numerous benefits have been touted by many health experts. In fact, the Chinese people have known about the many health benefits of green tea since ancient times.

Made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, green tea is rich in catechin polyphenols—particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)—which are responsible for most of the benefits. During the processing of green tea, the leaves are not allowed to oxidize, but are steamed instead. This process allows the natural properties of the leaves to be preserved, which makes green tea more potent than other types of tea. It also contains higher concentrations of powerful antioxidants.

Scientific research from both the East and West shows the value of adding green tea to a healthy diet. Here are some conditions with which green tea has been proven beneficial:

  • Heart Disease. Population-based clinical studies seem to show that green tea may help prevent atherosclerosis and heart disease. In fact, researchers have found that drinking 3 cups of green tea per day reduces the rate of heart attack by 11%. A similar study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that individuals who drank more than 5 cups of green tea daily lowered their heart disease death rate by 26%. In the same study, women appeared to experience more of the green tea benefits than men. It is not quite clear why green tea reduces heart disease, but some experts have attributed this to the high concentration of antioxidants. Despite the growing number of positive studies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has rejected petitions by some tea makers to add claims to their product labels that green tea reduces the risk of heart disease.
  • High cholesterol. Green tea’s cholesterol-lowering effects have been attributed to the antioxidant catechin. Some studies have shown that catechin extract derived from green tea appears to lower bad LDL cholesterol, increase good HDL cholesterol, and lower total cholesterol levels.
  • Cancer. The evidence of green tea benefits on cancer prevention has been mixed so far. Several population-based studies have shown that green tea helps protect against cancer, as demonstrated by the lower incidence of cancer in Japan, a nation that regularly consumes green tea. There are also some laboratory studies that show that green tea extract can stop the growth of cancer cells. In one study, women with early stage breast cancer who drank 5 cups of green tea daily showed reduced recurrence after treatment. However, those with the advanced stage of the disease did not show any improvement with intake of green tea. Many studies involving colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, stomach cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer have shown some positive findings with green tea intake. While the results are encouraging, not enough evidence has been shown to prove a definite link between green tea and cancer prevention.
  • Diabetes. Another benefit of green tea is its ability to control blood sugar levels in the body. Animal studies have shown that green tea is able to lower the blood sugar levels in diabetic mice. In addition, in people, drinking 6 cups of tea per day was shown to lower blood sugar levels by 15–20%.  There is clear indication that people with diabetes may benefit from daily intake of green tea to help control their sugar levels.
  • Liver disease. Animal and human studies have shown that green tea benefits the liver. In one study, men who took more than 10 cups of green tea per day showed reduced incidence of liver disorders. Animal studies have demonstrated that green tea helps protect against the growth of liver tumors in mice. Green tea also seems to help ward off the damaging effects of alcohol. Additional studies have suggested that the polyphenols in green tea help treat viral hepatitis.
  • Weight loss. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that green tea boosts metabolism and burns fat, which can aid in weight loss. The results showed that metabolism was increased by 4%. Drinking a cup or two per day may speed up weight-loss efforts.
  • Prolonged life. A Japanese study found that individuals who drank more than 5 cups of green tea daily lived 16% longer than those who drank less than 1 cup per day. This also supports the observation that people from the East, where green tea is consumed more, live longer than those from the West.
  • Skin benefits. The antioxidant properties of green tea also help skin. This is one of the reasons why many skin-care makers now infuse green tea into their products. Researchers have discovered that green tea fights off free radicals, which speed up the aging process. Too much sun exposure can cause skin to age prematurely, but green tea is able to neutralize UV light and to protect against sunburn. Several studies have shown that green tea may help prevent skin cancer by blocking a harmful enzyme. Green tea also has the ability to rejuvenate old skin cells. Another green tea benefit is its anti-inflammatory property, which can help control psoriasis and dandruff. It has also antibacterial properties that can help control and prevent acne problems.
  • Concentration and brain power. Tea contains a special compound known as theanine, which stimulates alpha brain waves. According to a 2007 study, drinking 4 cups of green tea each day improves concentration and brain power. It is believed that green tea can regenerate damaged brain cells.
  • Depression. Recent research from the University of San Francisco has found that polyphenols in green tea can improve dopamine levels, which are responsible for creating positive mood states. Another study found that people who consumed green tea on a regular basis suffered 44% fewer depression symptoms than people who were not regular tea drinkers.
  • Dental problems. In a 2009 study, scientists discovered that green tea may promote good oral health. People who drank tea regularly had healthier gums and fewer bleeding problems. Green tea also may prevent tooth decay and tooth erosion.

These are just some of the benefits of green tea. Although there is some conflicting evidence of its healthful properties, many people have experienced the positive benefits of green tea. Moreover, very few adverse side effects have been linked to it. So include a cup or two in your daily diet: it may improve your well-being significantly.