What is Green Tea Good For?

Tea from the plant Camella sinensis is one of the most consumed beverages in the world. Although there are varieties of tea, the most significant health benefits have been seen with the consumption of green tea. Thus, scientific investigations have been conducted to answer the question, “What is green tea good for?”

The health benefits of green tea can be traced back to its manufacturing process. Freshly harvested tea leaves are immediately steamed to prevent fermentation and destroy enzymes that would break down the color pigments in the leaves, thus allowing them to retain the green color. The steaming process also preserves the catechins in green tea, the substance pinpointed to be the cause of green tea’s varied health benefits.

Green Tea: Anti-cancer?

Green tea has been linked to the prevention of certain cancers including lung, colon, kidney, pancreatic and breast. It has been shown to protect humans against the formation of malignant tumors from exposure to environmental carcinogens. The anti-carcinogenic property of green tea may be attributed to the antioxidant action of the catechins, which protects the cells from the damaging effects of oxidative stress, a process linked to many diseases like stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. However, studies investigating what green tea is good for in terms of its anti-cancer properties have largely been population-based with inconclusive and even conflicting results.

Green Tea: Anti-diabetic

A traditional use of green tea is blood sugar control. A study has shown that green tea significantly reduced the glucose levels in rats. Daily administration of 50mL or 100mL/kg of green tea extract produced 29% and 44% decrease in the glucose level, respectively. A few clinical studies have demonstrated lowered hemoglobin A1C in patients receiving daily green tea supplements. (Hemoglobin A1C is a marker of glucose control in a given period of time.)

The proposed mechanism of green tea’s anti-diabetic effect is that EGCG, a catechin, seems to mimic insulin, a hormone produced by the body in response to high glucose in the blood. This serves to increase the utilization and storage of glucose, effectively lowering glucose level in the blood. Furthermore, EGCG has been found to reduce the production of an enzyme important in gluconeogenesis, a process by which the body produces glucose from fatty tissue for energy. It also prevents further damage to pancreatic islet cells, a process that is important in the development of diabetes type 1.

Green Tea: Anti-fat

Research has shown what green tea is good for in those struggling to lose weight. Green tea has been found to raise HDL levels (the “good” cholesterol) and lowers total cholesterol and LDL level (the “bad” cholesterol). Animal studies suggest that catechins in green tea may block the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines. Furthermore, a study has shown that a combination of green tea and caffeine significantly caused weight loss and a decrease in waist circumference and body mass index.

The consumption of green tea can be beneficial in a number of ways. However, clinical trials that conform to international standards must be conducted to adequately demonstrate the beneficial and adverse effects of green tea.