The Health Benefits Of Green Tea
Over the last few years, green tea has been touted as a miracle cure for almost every modern health ailment going. It’s been associated with cancer prevention, a lower heart disease risk, reduced blood pressure and it’s even been linked with weight loss.In this article I will be taking a more detailed look at the main health benefits associated with green tea and uncovering exactly why it’s become so popular in Western health and fitness circles.
1) Antioxidant Protection
The most popular benefit of drinking green tea is that it’s loaded with antioxidants. Antoxidants are powerful compounds that help protect your body’s cells from nasty substances called free radicals (dangerous by-products that get released into your body’s cells during oxygen based reactionsand have been linked with premature ageing and a range of chronic diseases).
When it comes to antioxidant content, green tea is one of the richest food sources available. It contains high levels of over 10 different antioxidants including the polyphenols epigallocatechingallate, epicatechingallate and gallocatechol, the vitamins A, C and E and the minerals selenium and zinc.
2) Cancer Prevention
Cancer prevention is another one of the main health benefits associated with consuming green tea. Cancer is a nasty health disorder which develops when the DNA in our body’s cells becomes disrupted, causing them to grow in a rapid, out of control way. No one is sure exactly what causes cancer or how to prevent it. However, current research suggests that diet has a big role to play when it comes to protecting against cancer.
Green tea contains a number of cancer fighting ingredients. All of the polyphenols are effective cancer killing nutrients. In addition to this, the vitamin C, manganese and zinc in this hot beverage, give it a further cancer fighting punch.
3) Weight Loss
Green tea isn’t just popular because it protects your body. It has also started to gain lots of attention as a weight loss aid. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, green tea extract can increase your metabolic rate by as much as 4% over a 24 hour period. The reason for this is that the polyphenols in green tea increase fat oxidation and thermogenesis which results in you burning more calories.
4) Reduced Heart Disease Risk
Drinking green tea can also protect you against the USA’s biggest killer – heart disease. Every year more than 500,000 people in the USA die as a result of heart disease. The good news is that two of the polyphenols in green tea (epicatechingallate and gallocatechol) are extremely good for your heart and can actually lower your heart disease risk.
5) Diabetes Prevention
Another green tea benefit is that it can protect against diabetes. Diabetes is an unpleasant disease where your body becomes unable to regulate your blood glucose levels properly. As a result, they become dangerously high and start to cause damage to your cells and vital organ. Like cancer, no one is certain exactly what causes diabetes but a healthy diet can go a long way towards preventing it.
The nutrients in green tea do a very good job of keeping your blood glucose levels under control and help minimize your chances of contracting diabetes. Three of the polyphenols it contains (epicatechin, epigallocatechingallate and thearubigins) directly help your body fight diabetes by increasing the amount of insulin (a hormone that allows your body’s cells to take glucose from the blood) it can produce and also making your cells more receptive to insulin.
6) Reduced Blood Pressure
Another well publicized benefit of green tea is that it reduces blood pressure. Untreated high blood pressure can seriously damage your blood vessels and vital organs. However, the epigallocatechingallate in green tea can protect against this damage and bring your blood pressure back down to normal levels.
7) Protection From Mental Diseases
Green tea isn’t just good for boosting your physical health. One of its more long lasting health benefits is that it offersprotection against mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (a mental disorder which damages your brain cells), dementia (a mental disorder which causes your brain cells to deteriorate) and Parkinson’s disease (a mental disorder which impairs mobility, speech and thought). Two of the polyphenols (catechin and theaflavin) in green tea have been shown to protect against all three of these mental disorders and help keep your brain healthy as you age.
8) Protection From Allergies
One of the lesser known benefits of green tea is that it can help you fight allergies. The catechin in green tea is a powerful antihistamine (a substance that minimizes the effects of the allergy causing chemical – histamine). As a result, drinking more green tea and the catechin it contains can help prevent many common allergic symptoms including coughing, itching, sneezing and swelling.
As you can see, the huge amount of interest in green tea in recent years has been justified. The unique blend of nutrients in this hot beverage means that it can offer a combination of health benefits unlike almost any other food or drink on the market.
However, even with all these health benefits, green tea is not a magic bullet and cannot compensate for an unhealthy lifestyle. If you eat junk food, lead a sedentary lifestyle, smoke or drink heavily, green tea won’t be able to reverse the damage that these things cause. The good news is that if you eat right, exercise regularly and drink green tea, it will boost your health massively and you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits discussed in this article.
Dullo, A.G., Duret, C., Roher, D., Girardier, L., Mensi, N., Fathi, M., Chantre, P., Vandermander, J., (1999) Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.70 (6): 1040–5
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