Green tea, also known as green sencha tea, Chinese tea, Japanese tea, EGCG, yame green tea or simply green tea extract is a product that offers significant health benefits. Extracted from the plant, Camellia sinensis, popularly used throughout China, Japan and other parts of Asia and a regular part of the diet of people in the orient, green tea is believed to contribute to improved heart health and also has positive effects on some types of cancers. Catechin, the main component of green tea, accounts for these powerful benefits.
How does green tea differ from other teas?
Green tea and what is commonly referred to as black tea in Western cultures, come from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis. Black tea, more widely used in the West, is what is usually found finely ground and packaged into teabags. Though similar to black tea, the production of green tea is significantly different. To produce black tea the leaves are withered, blown dry and then completely oxidized. With green tea, however, the leaves are kept fresh and then wilted using steam. The steamed leaves are later air dried and packaged. Unlike black tea, green tea leaves are not allowed to oxidize nor ferment. There are other varieties of tea produced from these same leaves, such as white tea, oolong tea and yellow tea. With each type of tea the method and extent of oxidation differs. The method used to produce green tea means that it is processed the least, ensuring the maximum nutritional value of the plant is preserved as oxidation easily destroys the chemical compounds for which green tea is best known.
What compounds are found in green tea?
The key component in green tea or green tea extract is a chemical compound known as catechin. It is the presence of this substance that makes green tea extremely rich in antioxidants and polyphenols. Polyphenols are a type of phytochemicals, meaning they help to protect cells from being damaged by free radicals. Green tea is one of the best sources of catechins as it is present in very high concentrations.
Other components of green tea include amino acids, caffeine, enzymes, flavonoids, minerals, saponins, theanine, and vitamins. Each of these compounds provides its own benefits. Green tea also has a greater concentration of polyphenols than most fruits and vegetables, and more flavonoids that some plants or even wine. These flavonoids are also believed to help fight against cancer.
Health benefits of green tea
For years, green tea has been used throughout the world for its medicinal benefits. Green tea is purported to have some of the following positive effects on health:
Improved metabolism – Green tea helps to increase the body’s metabolic rate.
Lowered cholesterol – Green tea may contribute to lowering bad cholesterol.
Weight loss and obesity – The polyphenols and caffeine present in green tea accelerate the body’s ability to burn fat and over time may contribute to weight loss. Green tea may also combat obesity due to its ability to reduce bad cholesterol.
Lowered diabetes risk – The risk of diabetes is lowered with green tea consumption because of the reduction in cholesterol.
Improved heart health – Regular consumption of green tea has been found to contribute to less intense heart conditions. Its effect on lowering cholesterol also means reduced likelihood of heart disease.
Improved circulation – Consuming at least four cups of green tea daily has been linked to improved blood circulation. It is therefore quite helpful to moderate blood pressure, thereby also decreasing the likelihood of strokes and heart attacks. Green tea also helps to regulate body temperature.
Treatment of cancer – The catechins found in green tea are a powerful agent in fighting certain types of cancer such as breast, colorectal, endometrial, esophageal, ovarian, pancreatic cancer, prostate and stomach cancers. This is because the catechins help to regulate cell growth, thereby inhibiting abnormal cell growth. The compounds found in green tea are even effective in preventing breast cancer from returning after surgery.
Depression – Some of the amino acids present in green tea help to sooth and relax the body, thus alleviating stress and depression.
Mental awareness – Green tea boosts mental health. It makes the brain more alert. It also enhances thinking skills.
Other benefits – Green tea is believed to be helpful in preventing dementia. It has also been found to improve stomach issues, aid digestion, alleviate diarrhea, control bleeding, help wounds heal faster, and assist with vomiting. Green tea may even control certain bacterial infections, including tooth decay. It is also useful as a gentle diuretic.
Cosmetic uses – Green tea, applied topically to the skin, can help to reduce signs of aging, including wrinkles, by improving sun-damaged skin.
How is green tea prepared?
Green tea has been an important part of the diet of Chinese and Japanese for centuries. It’s only in the past few decades that its consumption has spread to other cultures. Black tea is consumed four times more frequently than green tea. The green tea leaves may be steeped in boiling water and consumed as is or sweetened. Green tea is now being pulverized and sold as capsules, making consumption easier.
Before you take green tea
Though possessing enormous amounts of health benefits, green tea may likely have negative effects on certain individuals. Green tea should be consumed in moderation. The recommended intake is not more than 4 cups daily. Because of the presence of caffeine some issues related to caffeine consumption may be noticed, including dizziness and irritability, as well as nervousness. Difficulty falling asleep has also been reported.
Green tea is one of the healthiest teas because of its high concentration of antioxidants and the compound catechin. People in the orient have been enjoying it for centuries but now it has rapidly spread to other cultures as a potent remedy to address certain maladies. Its caffeine content contributes to increased awareness and endurance while its antioxidant capability makes it an excellent candidate for helping to fight heart conditions. It is even a good topical remedy for skin conditions and reducing signs of aging. Green tea is an all-around useful natural remedy.