Green tea might just be the healthiest brew you’ll ever drink.
It’s packed full of free radical-fighting antioxidants and comes with a diverse spectrum of benefits for health, ranging from weight management to enhancing mental functions and potentially reducing the risk of serious illness such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
And these examples are just the tip of the tea leaf.
Here’s a rundown of the top health benefits of green tea which have been clinically proven by scientists.
1. Green Tea Contains Powerful Phytochemicals
I think you will agree with me when I say green tea is not your average brew. Why does green tea contain more potent nutrients than its cousin black tea? It’s all down to the finishing process (source).
Green tea is picked and steamed to halt the oxidation process, therefore locking in all the goodness. In contrast, black tea is allowed to fully oxidise.
That green tea goodness comes in the form of polyphenols called catechins, which are known to have major antioxidant properties.
Free radicals are linked with the effects of aging and many processes
that occur in the body. In fac, if you have too many it could potentially lead to serious illnesses such as cancer.
There are a number of different catechins in green tea, however the one found in abundance and the most beneficial is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) (source)
EGCG has been a major player in the scientific research into the health benefits associated with green tea.
The phrase “not all are created equal” applies when choosing green tea - it’s worth trying to choose the best quality leaves you can find.
This is due to fluoride which may have adverse effects on depletion of nutrients in tea. It has been reported that the fluoride levels increase with the decrease in quality of tea leaves. (source)
However, drinking any kind of green tea has got to be better for you than none at all.
2. Green Tea is Good for the Brain
Green tea has other ingredients which are a perfect combination for promoting brain functions.
Green tea contains caffeine, a widely used natural stimulant. The levels are not as high as coffee, but enough to give you similar benefits.
Research suggests caffeine has many positive actions on the brain. It can increase alertness and well being, help concentration, improve mood and limit depression.
Adenosine is a neurotransmitter in the brain which makes you feel sleepy. Levels continue to increase as the day goes on and eventually you succumb to the effects and get your night time rest. Caffeine has the ability to stall the tired signals keeping you more alert and awake. (source)
Dopamine is responsible for many pathways in the brain involved in focus, attention, pleasure and various cognitive functions. Caffeine sends signals to neurons which affects the release of dopamine (source)
Caffeine consumption has also been associated with prevention of cognitive decline and reduced risk of stroke, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. (source)
Green tea also contains the amino acid theanine which has been suggested to improve learning and memory.
Theanine works in a similar way to caffeine by increasing levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. Reports go as far to suggest that it could prove to be a cognitive enhancing agent (source)
Evidence supports the theory that caffeine and theanine work as perfect partners to significantly improve accuracy, alertness, focus and cognitive functions (source)
The catechin EGCG has been researched for its mood benefits. Findings suggest it can regulate brain activity and create a relaxed state. (source)
3. Green Tea for Physical Performance & Fat Burning
Green tea could also help you achieve your fitness goals.
The catechins found in green tea may increase fat burning potential.
In a 12 week blind study, daily consumption of tea containing 690 mg of catechins reduced body fat (source)
A combination of catechins and caffeine could prove to be beneficial for inhibiting fat accumulation (source).
Green tea has been shown to enhance endurance through stimulation of fatty acid use. Results indicated that green tea delayed exhaustion by up to 24% (source)
Caffeine also has been widely studied for enhancing physical performance.
Caffeine increases adrenaline (epinephrine) which tells your heart to increase blood flow, giving you more oxygen in the body and allowing you to work harder (source)
Caffeine, just like green tea can also encourage stored fat cells to break down allowing an additional source of fuel. (source)
Green tea has been proven to assist with many areas of physical performance, however clinical results have been inconsistent and a recommendation for further studies has been made. (source)
4. Green Tea Could Help Reduce Risk of Cancer
Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally. Nearly 1 in 6 deaths are a result of this disease. (source)
Oxidative stress is defined as an imbalance between production of free radicals and antioxidants. (source)
Prolonged oxidative stress (damage to cells) caused by free radicals could contribute to cancer.
Antioxidants work to neutralize the damage and keep your cells healthy.
Green tea is packed full of antioxidants and a growing body of research has demonstrated green tea, in particular the catechin EGCG, may play a role in cancer prevention. (source)
A men’s health study indicated regular green tea consumption reduces the risk of colorectal cancer. In fact, every 2g increment of green tea consumed was associated with a 12% reduction in risk. (source)
472 patients with stages 1, 2 and 3 breast cancer were assessed and it became clear increased consumption of green tea was associated with a decreased number of lymph nodes.
In a follow up study on patients, green tea consumption decreased recurrence of stage 1 and 2 breast cancer by a rate of 16.7 to 24.3%. (source)
60 volunteers took part in a double-blind study and after one year only one tumour was diagnosed in the green tea group (3% incidence rate). In the placebo group 9 volunteers were diagnosed with prostate cancer (30% incidence rate). (source)
Various studies have shown that if you drink green tea you could reduce your chances of contracting cancer. (source)
However, if someone offers you milk with your matcha it would be wise to pass. Studies suggest that milk could reduce the antioxidant capacity (source)
5. Green Tea Could Help Aging Brain Health
As you get older, you inevitably become more prone to developing age-related illnesses. However, green tea could help protect the maturing brain.
Alzheimer’s is an illness which causes the brain cells to die leading to adverse effects on cognitive functions such as memory and behaviour. Eventually it could lead to dementia.
Parkinson’s is a progressive disease of the nervous system which severely restricts mobility. (source)
To this day there are still no known cures for either disease only treatments to relieve symptoms.
There is increasing evidence from various studies that catechins in green tea could be a promising strategy in the fight against neurodegenerative diseases. (source)
6. Green Tea Can Fight Bacteria
There is evidence to suggest three out of the four catechins in green tea have antimicrobial properties therefore helping the body control bacteria and fight off viruses such as influenza or reducing the risk of other illnesses. (source)
Green tea can also help to keep your pearly whites shining bright.
As green tea has antibacterial properties, it can reduce the effects of plaque and cavities on your teeth ensuring you maintain oral health.
A study used green tea as mouth wash on 30 volunteers to identify if it could control dental plaque.
Results indicated a significant decrease in plaque, therefore reducing risk of bacterial infection in the gums. (source)
If you are prone to bad breath, you may want to start gargling with your green tea. The catechins can abolish halitosis due to their disinfectant activity. (source)
Overall, consuming green tea is considered beneficial to oral health and the prevention of tooth loss (source)
7. Green Tea Could Reduce the Risk of Diabetes
Type II diabetes is a metabolic disease that causes sugar to build up in your blood stream. (source)
People that have type II diabetes can’t use insulin produced in the body to process the sugar efficiently enough.
This term is known as insulin resistance.
Studies suggest that diets naturally rich in polyphenols reduce blood glucose response by increasing insulin secretion therefore improving glucose metabolism. (source)
Type II diabetes is often associated with obesity and one study indicates habitual tea drinkers for more than 10 years show a 19.6% reduction in body fat in comparison to those who don’t. (source)
According to clinical research, if you consume a catechin-rich beverage it can control blood sugar and also fight obesity. (source)
8. Green Tea Could Keep Your Heart Healthy
More people die from cardiovascular disease annually than from any other cause. (source)
Heart attacks and strokes occur when a blockage stops blood flow to the brain or heart.
Green tea could reduce some of the contributing factors.
Green tea catechins have shown multiple cardiovascular health benefits such as the ability to prevent hardening of the arteries and reduction of high blood pressure. (source)
High blood cholesterol is one major risk factor for heart disease. (source)
13 studies carried out concluded that consuming green tea could significantly reduce the “bad” LDL cholesterol (source)
Clinical suggestion is a daily intake of 7 cups of green tea could be the recommended level for cardiovascular protection (source)
9. Green Tea Could Help you Lose Weight
Green tea is a metabolism booster, accelerating the body’s thermogenic process which makes it ideal for losing a few pounds.
Compounds in green tea stimulate signals in the body to break down fat stores to use as energy therefore accelerating fat loss. (source)
There are even suggestions that green tea could be particularly good for shifting stubborn belly fat. (source)
182 moderately overweight volunteers consumed green tea for a 90 day period. Body composition improved resulting in a decrease of 1.9 cm in waist circumference and a reduction of 1.2 kg in body weight. (source)
However other clinical reports show conflicting results, suggesting green tea only induces a minor improvement in weight management. (source)
10. Green Tea Could Promote Longevity
Growing older is a fact of life. Let’s face it, no one lives forever.
However, green tea could help you stay on this planet for a little longer.
Green tea could provide so many benefits for health, decreasing risk for a multitude of diseases, therefore stretching your lifespan further. (source)
Scientists administered green tea catechin EGCG to laboratory nematodes and results indicated an increase in lifespan of up to 16% (source)
A major study of Japanese adults looked into the association between green tea consumption and risk of all causes of mortality.
Green tea was associated with reducing the risk of stroke, heart and respiratory disease - the three leading causes of death in japan. (source)
Green tea could actually slow down signs of aging.
A telomere is a part of the human cell which controls how we age. Green tea catechins are said to protect them from damage therefore delaying aging in the body. (source)
Take Home Message
I think it’s pretty safe to say green tea could provide some significant benefits to your health in a variety of different ways.
It makes a great alternative to regular coffee and tea, so next time try making the switch and go for green.
Here's an interesting infographic from anxietyreliefstress.com