You may have heard a lot of great things about green tea, it’s been hailed by many as a healthy drink, it’s full of antioxidants, green tea is good for your heart, and it’s helpful for weight loss. Green tea has been shown to ward off cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes. So what’s behind these claims? Is green tea good for you?
What is Green Tea?
People throughout the world love a good cup of tea in fact it’s the most popular drink except for water. Most of the tea consumed as of 2017 was black tea but green tea is quickly moving up in popularity, it made up about 20% of all tea drank in 2017 (Ware, 2017).
Green tea comes from the same plant as oolong and black teas, the Camellia Senensis. To make green tea, the leaves do not go through an oxidation process like they do in the other tea types. Because it is the least processed, it retains the highest levels of antioxidants and polyphenols (micronutrients from plant-based foods).
Green tea has been used for centuries in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine as a first aid wound treatment to control bleeding, regulate body temperature, help with digestive issues, assist with mental health concerns, and treat heart conditions.
Green tea has more recently gained some traction in the West as more studies have looked at the potential benefits of this nutrient-packed beverage. It should be noted; however, that the results have been mixed and the data is inconsistent(Wikipedia, 2020). More research is certainly needed into the potential health benefits of green tea.
Health Benefits of Green Tea
Green Tea May Inhibit Cancer Cells. Some studies have shown that the polyphenols in green tea may act as an inhibitor on certain cancer cells slowing tumor growth. These polyphenols may also protect cells against the damage caused by UVB radiation (Ware, 2017).
Other research also shows that in areas where the populace drinks a high amount of green tea, they have low rates of cancer. Of course, there may be other reasons, such as lifestyle differences, contributing to low cancer rates.
Green Tea Has Been Shown To Lower Cholesterol. There was an analysis of 14 studies completed in 2011 that showed green tea lowered the total cholesterol and the LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels a significant but moderate amount when either drank or taken in capsule form(Zheng, et al., 2011).
Green Tea May Lower Your Stroke Risk. Drinking either green tea or coffee regularly could lower your risk of stroke. This was the finding published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association(Kokubo, et al. 2013).
“This is the first large-scale study to examine the combined effects of both green tea and coffee on stroke risks. You may make a small but positive lifestyle change to help lower the risk of stroke by adding daily green tea to your diet.”Dr. Yoshihiro Kokubo, Ph.D.
Green Tea May Reduce Chronic Inflammation. In the article, Foods that Fight Inflammation, I discussed how antioxidants and polyphenols helped fight inflammation in our bodies. It should come as no surprise then, that green tea is a super inflammation fighter! It was included on my list for that article too.
Green tea is especially helpful in fighting inflammation that causes cavities, chronic fatigue, arthritis, skin disorders, and stress.
Green Tea is Heart Healthy. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2006 showed that participants that drank 5 cups of green tea a day had “significantly” less risk of dying, especially of heart disease than participants who had 1 or fewer cups of green tea daily(Kuriyama, et al., 2006).
Green Tea Helps Inflammatory Skin Disorders. A study completed in 2007 that showed animals treated with green tea for inflammatory skin diseases, like psoriasis and dandruff, showed improvement. The green tea treatment appeared to slow down the over-production of skin cells and reduce inflammation(Hsu, et al.,2007).
Of course, this needs to be replicated and more testing needs to be done on humans but does show promise. Since these disorders fuel inflammation, it makes sense that green tea would be beneficial.
Green Tea and Weight Loss. Here is an area where green tea doesn’t fare so well. There are no studies that have successfully shown that green tea has aided in weight loss. The consensus is that green tea does not promote weight loss in any significant way, despite claims to the contrary.
Side Effects/Contraindications of Green Tea
Green tea is a calorie-free beverage and there aren’t many side effects or contraindications for ingesting a cup of brewed tea but there are some considerations as follows.
- Caffeine sensitivity – Green tea has less caffeine than black tea but still has some so if you are very sensitive you may have insomnia, upset stomach, anxiety, nausea, or irritability.
- May interact with anticoagulants/blood thinners – If you are taking these drugs such as Warfarin/Coumadin, green tea may interact with them as it does contain Vitamin K. You also should not take aspirin while drinking green tea as together they may interfere with the ability of your platelets to clot effectively.
- May interact with stimulants – If you ingest green tea with stimulants your blood pressure and heart rate may rise.
Hopefully, you found some good information about green tea in this article. I love the flavor of green tea and one of my favorite things is to enjoy a cup of it in the mornings sitting in the hammock watching the mountains. I love that I am getting health benefits from something I already enjoy!
Hsu, S., Dickinson, D., Borke, J., Walsh, D., Wood, J., Qin, H., Winger, J., Pearl, H., Schuster, G., and Bollag, W. (August, 16, 2007). Green tea polyphenol induces caspase 14 in epidermal keratinocytes via MAPK pathways and reduces psoriasiform lesions in the flaky skin mouse model. Experimental Dermatology. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17620095/ on July 21, 2020.
Kokubo, Y., Iso, H., Saito, I., Yamagishi, K., Yatsuya, H., Ishihara, J., Inoue, M., and Tsugane, S. (March 14, 2013). The Impact of Green Tea and Coffee Consumption on the Reduced Risk of Stroke Incidence in Japanese Population. Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association. Retrieved from: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.677500 on July 21, 2020.
Kuriyama, S., MD.,PhD., Shimazu, T., MD., Ohmori, K., MD., PhD. (September 13, 2006). Green Tea Consumption and Mortality Due to Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, and All Causes in Japan. Journal of the American Medical Association. Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/203337 on July 21, 2020.
Ware, M. (March 28, 2017). What are the health benefits of green tea? Medical News Today. Retrieved from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/269538 on July 21, 2020.
Wikipedia. (July 4, 2020). Green Tea. Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_tea on July 21, 2020.
Zheng, X., Xu, Y., Li, S., Liu, X. Hui, R., Huang, X. (June 29, 2011). Green tea intake lowers fasting serum total and LDL cholesterol in adults: a meta-analysis of 14 randomized controlled trials. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21715508/ on July 21, 2020.