Tip of the Week: Green Tea’s Health Benefits

This week, I decided to cover green tea, because we all know that green tea is good for us, but how exactly does green tea benefit our health?

Here’s an article from steadyhealth.com which seems to cover both pros and cons objectively:

Green Tea for Fat Burning, by SirGan
July 20, 2007

Green Tea has become very popular with people wanting to lose weight  over the past few years. However, many people doubt the fat burning properties of green tea.
Several researches have proven that green tea is rich in a class of polyphenols known as catechins which give the plant its color. The strongest catechin in green tea is known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Most experts claim that EGCG increases the rate at which fat is burned, and reduces the absorption of calories from the diet. Green, oolong, and black teas all come from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant.

History of green tea usage
Green tea has been an integral part of the Asian diet for thousands of years. It is believed that drinking several cups a day leads to a longer and healthier life. Scientists have concluded that green tea might act protectively against heart disease, liver disorders, and works as an antibacterial agent to support the immune system. The Chinese are said to be the first ones to discover tea, and the most varieties of tea are found in China. During the famous Tang Dynasty, wild tea was gathered and steamed on a bamboo tray, grinded into a fine pulp called tea mud and then placed into moulds. The tea was then pressed and left to harden.
Tea has played a significant role in Asian culture for centuries as a staple beverage, a curative and a symbol of status.

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What makes green tea so special?
The secret of green tea lies in the catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). This substance is a powerful anti-oxidant which means that it inhibits the growth of cancer cells. It is proven that it is at least 100 more times more effective than vitamin C and 25 times more effective than vitamin E at protecting cells and DNA from damage believed to be linked to cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses.

Besides that it also:

•kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissue
•is effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels
•inhibits the abnormal formation of blood clots
Specific way of preparing the tea is extremely important because green tea leaves are steamed, which prevents the EGCG compound from being oxidized.

How much is enough?

Some Japanese reports claimed that men who drank ten cups of green tea per day stayed cancer-free for three years longer than men who drank less than three cups a day. Other researches concluded that drinking four or more cups of green tea per day could help prevent rheumatoid arthritis, or reduce symptoms in individuals already suffering from the disease. However, it is very difficult to answer how much is enough. Given all the evidence, it is probably safe to plan on drinking four to five cups of green tea per day. If you’re a real devotee, by all means drink more.

Home preparation of Green Tea
Producing the perfect cup of green tea can be really tricky. If not handled properly, those crucial ingredients such as polyphenols that provide health benefits can ruin the flavor. It’s particularly important not to overbrew.

Some general instructions are:

•Use one tea bag, or 2 – 4 grams of tea, per cup
•Fill a kettle with cold water and bring to a boil
•After this – allow it to stand for up to 3 minutes
•Pour the heated water over the tea bag or tea, and allow it to steep for up to 3 minutes
•Allow the tea to cool for three more minutes

Health benefits of green tea
Proponents of green tea note that its medicinal benefits have been described for over 1000 years. It is believed that drinking green tea can has a positive effect on the five vital organs, especially the heart. Some are saying that the green tea is helpful in easing the effects of alcohol, acting as a stimulant, curing blotchiness, quenching thirst, eliminating indigestion, curing beriberi disease, preventing fatigue, and improving urinary and brain function. But how much of this is really scientifically proven?

Green tea has been claimed to be useful for:

•Stopping certain neurodegenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s
•Preventing or treating cancer
•Treating Arthritis
•Treating MS
•Preventing the degradation of cell membranes by neutralizing the spread of free radicals
•Increases fat oxidation and raises metabolism.
•Lowering LDL cholesterol
•Preventing lowered T-Cells due to HIV
•Green tea can even help prevent tooth decay! Experts are saying that, just as its bacteria-destroying abilities can help prevent food poisoning; it can also kill the bacteria that causes dental plaque

In the U.S. , Food and Drug Administration has rejected claims of health benefits for green tea. To be more precise FDA actually said that it is likelt that green tea does not reduce breast, prostate or any other type of cancer risk.

Green Tea and weigh management

Green Tea enthusiasts claim that drinking tea can actually help burn extra fat and calories. A recent scientific study really supports the green tea’s ability to burn fat and increase metabolism. What’s more, other studies show that, when combined with other sensible lifestyle choices like maintaining a healthy body weight, both green and black teas can help reduce the risk of heart disease, the #1 health risk for women. Research shows that green tea contains “thermogenic” substances that help you metabolize more fat. Several studies on obesity have concluded that people who have been regular tea drinkers for more than 10 years showed lower body fat percentages compared with those who don’t drink tea regularly. Drinking tea is a great life choice—it’s calorie-free and can help quench your body’s thirst for the daily fluids it needs. Of course, just drinking tea isn’t enough – everyone should support a healthy diet and exercise program with tea.

If someone drinks green tea he or she should know that it can:

•Lower cholesterol
•Increase Termogenesis -the body’s rate of burning calories. Green tea contains high concentrations of catechin polyphenols. These compounds work with other chemicals to intensify levels of fat oxidation and termogenesis, where heat is created in the body by burning fuels such as fat.
•Enhance fat oxidation
•Burn fat naturally and increases metabolism
•Green tea also causes carbohydrates to be released slowly, preventing sharp increases in blood-insulin levels. This promotes the burning of fat.
•Facilitate weight loss by affecting glucose. It is proven that weight is gained because of excess sugars and fats are stored in the body as fat cells. Green tea catechins can help prevent obesity by inhibiting the movement of glucose in fat cells.

Harmful Effects and contraindications
The only negative side effect reported from drinking green tea is insomnia. This is reasonable due to the fact that it contains caffeine. However, green tea contains less caffeine than coffee. There are some conditions which are contraindicated with drinking Green Tea.

Avoid drinking green tea or at least talk to your doctor before taking green tea if you have:

•Heart problems
•High blood pressure
•Kidney disease
•Nervous disorder
•If you are pregnant, think you may be pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant
•Green Tea interferes with absorption of alkaline medications and that’s why if you are taking any medicines, check with your doctor before taking Green Tea.

Green Tea and pregnancy issue
Several researches have came to the conclusion that the main active substance found in Green Tea blocks the enzyme necessary for folic acid to be utilized in the cells. This could be extremely dangerous because folic acid is needed in the process of cell division, which is especially important during the critical periods of growth and development during the first trimester of pregnancy. Without folic acid, cell division is slowed down. Inadequate intake of folic acid has been linked to an increased risk of giving birth to an infant with neural tube defects. That’s why pregnant women should avoid green tea throughout their pregnancy.

Doses of 300 milligrams of caffeine (about 5 cups of tea) can cause restlessness, tremors, and exaggerated reflexes. The first signs of outright poisoning are vomiting and abdominal spasms.  It’s impossible to drink enough tea to be fatal. However, regular daily intake of excessive doses (1,500 milligrams of caffeine, or 25 cups of tea) will result in irritability, sleeplessness, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and headache.

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