Today, scientific research in both Asia and the west is has shown the health benefits long associated with drinking green tea. For example, in 1994 the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published the results of an epidemiological study indicating that drinking green tea reduced the risk of esophageal cancer in Chinese men and women by nearly sixty percent. University of Purdue researchers recently concluded that a compound in green tea inhibits the growth of cancer cells. There is also research indicating that drinking green tea lowers total cholesterol levels, as well as improving the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to bad (LDL) cholesterol.
To sum up, here are just a few medical conditions in which drinking green tea is reputed to be helpful:
- rheumatoid arthritis
- high cholesterol levels
- cardiovascular disease
- impaired immune function
What makes green tea so special?
The secret of green tea lies in the fact it is rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a powerful anti-oxidant; besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, it kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. It’s also effective for lowering LDL cholesterol levels and inhibiting the abnormal formation of blood clots. This helps protect from the formation of abnormal blood clots which are the leading cause of heart attack and stroke.
Links are being made between the effects of drinking green tea and the “French Paradox.” For years, researchers were puzzled by the fact that, despite consuming a diet rich in fat, the French have a lower incidence of heart disease than Americans. The answer was found to lie in red wine, which contains resveratrol, a polyphenol that limits the negative effects of smoking and a fatty diet. In a 1997 study, researchers from the University of Kansas determined that EGCG is twice as powerful as resveratrol, which may explain why the rate of heart disease among Japanese men is quite low, even though approximately seventy-five percent are smokers.
Why Don’t All Teas Nave Similar Health Benefits?
Green, oolong, and black teas all come from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. What sets green tea apart is the way it’s processed. Green tea leaves are steamed, which prevents the EGCG compound from being oxidized. By contrast, black and oolong tea leaves are made from fermented leaves, which results in the EGCG being converted into other compounds that are not nearly as effective in preventing and fighting various diseases.
Other Health Benefits
New evidence is emerging that green tea can even help dieters. In November, 1999, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the results of a study at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. Researchers found that men who were given a combination of caffeine and green tea extract burned more calories than those given only caffeine or a placebo.
Green tea can even help prevent tooth decay! Just as its bacteria-destroying abilities can help prevent food poisoning, it can also kill the bacteria that causes dental plaque. Meanwhile, skin preparations containing green tea – from deodorants to creams – are starting to appear on the market.
Are There Any Negative Side Effects?
To date, the only negative side effect reported green tea consumption is insomnia due to the caffeine content. However, green tea contains less caffeine than coffee. There is only 30-60mg of caffeine in 8 ounce serving of tea, compared to over 100mg in eight ounces of coffee.
My favorite is Numi Monkey King. It has a hint of jasmine in it and its delicious. Give it a try.