It’s an open secret that green tea is something of a super drink, filled with antioxidants and phytonutrients that support a sound mind and healthy body.
But is there any proof to this claim? And what is it, in particular, that makes it so darn magical?
I will be examining the science behind green tea in detail in this post. We will go through the origin, and mechanisms of how it works and the numerous beneficial compounds it contains that made it healthy, and some of the ways you can stave off disease and improve your health.
What is green tea, and what makes it so healthy?
The history of tea production dates back thousands of years, but it was only in the 8th century A.D that green tea emerged on the Chinese market.
Tea producers at this point realized that by steaming the leaves, they could prevent their oxidation, and allow them to maintain its superior nutrient qualities, superior taste for longer periods.
Green tea and black tea originates from Camellia sinensis. The difference lies in the processing method.
Post-harvest, tea leaves intended for the production of black tea is allowed to oxidize, this is a process whereby an interaction between oxygen and the cell walls gives it its characteristic dark brown or dark color.
This, in turn, changes the flavor of the leaves and allows black tea to have a distinctive aroma and flavor – which is a big plus for the tea trade back in antiquity.
On the other hand, leaves intended for green tea are steamed immediately after harvest to prevent oxidation.
This ultimately means that the leaves won’t last for long as black tea, but it retains more nutrients and provides a lighter, fruitier flavor.
This process of steaming is responsible for locking all the wonderful antioxidants into green tea, guaranteeing that a fresh brew of green tea truly is a super drink!
The many health benefits of green tea
Yeah, so you know that green tea is super-loaded with antioxidants. No big deal – as lots of other drinks and foods also contains antioxidants, right? What’s all the fuss about then?
The secret about green tea lies in a particularly potent antioxidant known as catechins.
It protects our cells against aging and damage, supports a wide variety of critical functions in the body and stimulates healthy neural activity.
It is these antioxidants especially epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), that makes better than the rest.
Here are some of the many reasons you should consider starting your day with a cup of green tea.
1. Green tea protects against memory impairment
A study was published last year in which researchers divided mice into three sample groups, Group A, the control group was fed on a standard diet, group B which was fed on a high fat, high fructose diet, and a third group fed a high-fat, high-fructose diet supplemented with two grams of EGCG (that critical catechin found in green tea) per liter of drinking water.
For 16 weeks, the team monitored mice response to their various diets. During this period, it was discovered that the mice fed with EGCG spent more time in the target quadrant of a maze test and were more likely to use platform crossings in a water test.
Scientific Jargon, right? Of course. The meaning? “That the catechins found in green tea can protect memory against impairment at the hands of a diet very similar to the average American diet.”
2. Green tea lowers risk of obesity
The same study as above also revealed that supplementing with the antioxidants in green tea lowered the amount of weight put on by mice fed a high-fat, high-fructose diet.
This is not exactly a new discovery, as there are many literatures that reveal a strong link between drinking green tea and weight loss.
A study, in 2008 showed that mice fed a high-fat diet supplemented with EGCG added less weight and had decreased level of blood glucose when compared to mice on a high-fat diet alone.
Furthermore, in another study, it was reported that the caffeine and catechins found in green tea had synergistic anti-obesity effects, this in combination with theanine in green tea could help significantly lower body weight.
3. Green tea fights cancer
The cancer-combating ability of green tea is almost a stuff of legend, with numerous literature proving that the inherent antioxidants in green tea can protect against a wide range of cancers.
In a study in 2014, it was shown that polyphenols in green tea help delay the invasion and progression of breast cancer.
Furthermore, another research shows that it can protect against colon, stomach, esophageal, oral, lung and liver cancer.
And the key ingredient behind these all these anti-cancer effects is none other than ECCG, of course.
4. Green tea boosts brain power
It contains L- theanine and caffeine, these compounds that have been proven to boost brain function.
It does not contain as much caffeine as coffee, but it has enough Caffeine to stimulate a beneficial response while avoiding those caffeine “jitters” that coffee drinkers sometimes suffer from.
Caffeine functions by inhibiting the action of neurotransmitter-blocking adenosine thereby ultimately improving concentration and boosting neuronal activity in the brain.
Furthermore, L-theanine also functions in conjunction with caffeine to heighten brain function and improve mental clarity.
L-theanine has been shown by studies to promote “alert relaxation”, – this is a state in which the mind functions much more efficiently with the weight of anxiety temporarily lifted.
5. Green tea supports cardiovascular health
The heart-stounding effects of green tea are legendary. In 2006, a study showed that drinking green tea lowers blood pressure, protect against myocardial injury and improves endothelial function.
Another study also showed that polyphenols like ECCG in green tea also helped in reducing blood pressure in stroke-prone individual’s, and it was concluded that simply drinking green tea regularly can help protect against hypertension.
So, folks, it is no wonder green tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world, second to only water, permit me to say that a switch to green tea is a very healthy choice.