Quantcast

10 Darn Good Reasons to Drink Green Tea

By Kris Gunnars

Green tea is the healthiest beverage on the planet. It is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that have powerful effects on the body. This includes improved brain function, fat loss, a lower risk of cancer and many other incredible benefits. Here are 10 health benefits of green tea that have been confirmed in human research studies.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

1. Green Tea Contains Various Bioactive Compounds That Can Improve Health

Green tea is more than just green liquid. Many of the bioactive compounds in the tea leaves do make it into the final drink, which contains large amounts of important nutrients.

It is loaded with polyphenols like flavonoids and catechins, which function as powerful antioxidants. These substances can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage. These free radicals are known to play a role in aging and all sorts of diseases. One of the more powerful compounds in green tea is the antioxidant Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), which has been studied to treat various diseases and may be one of the main reasons green tea has such powerful medicinal properties.

Green tea also has small amounts of minerals that are important for health. Try to choose a higher quality brand of green tea, because some of the lower quality brands can contain excessive levels of fluoride. That being said, even if you choose a lower quality brand, the benefits still far outweigh any risk.

2. Compounds in Green Tea Can Improve Brain Function and Make You Smarter

Green tea does more than just keep you awake, it can also make you smarter. The key active ingredient is caffeine, which is a known stimulant. It doesn't contain as much as coffee, but enough to produce a response without causing the “jittery" effects associated with too much caffeine. What caffeine does in the brain is to block an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine. This way, it actually increases the firing of neurons and the concentration of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. Caffeine has been intensively studied before and consistently leads to improvements in various aspects of brain function, including improved mood, vigilance, reaction time and memory.

However… green tea contains more than just caffeine. It also has the amino acid L-theanine, which is able to cross the blood-brain barrier. L-theanine increases the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, which has anti-anxiety effects. It also increases dopamine and the production of alpha waves in the brain. Studies show that caffeine and L-theanine can have synergistic effects. The combination of the two is particularly potent at improving brain function. Because of the L-theanine and the smaller dose of caffeine, green tea can give you a much milder and different kind of “buzz" than coffee. Many people report having more stable energy and being much more productive when they drink green tea, compared to coffee.

3. Green Tea Increases Fat Burning and Improves Physical Performance

If you look at the ingredients list for any fat burning supplement, chances are that green tea will be on there. This is because green tea has been shown to increase fat burning and boost the metabolic rate in human controlled trials.

In one study of 10 healthy men, green tea increased energy expenditure by 4 percent. Another study showed that fat oxidation was increased by 17 percent, indicating that green tea may selectively increase the burning of fat. However, I'd like to point out that some studies on green tea don't show any increase in metabolism, so the effects may depend on the individual.

Caffeine itself has also been shown to improve physical performance by mobilizing fatty acids from the fat tissues and making them available for use as energy. In two separate review studies, caffeine has been shown to increase physical performance by 11-12 percent, on average.

4. Antioxidants in Green Tea May Lower Your Risk of Various Types of Cancer

Cancer is caused by uncontrolled growth of cells. It is one of the world's leading causes of death. It is well known that oxidative damage contributes to the development of cancer and that antioxidants can have a protective effect. Green tea is an excellent source of powerful antioxidants, so it makes perfect sense that it could reduce your risk of cancer, which it appears to do:

  • Breast cancer: A meta-analysis of observational studies found that women who drank the most green tea had a 22 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer, the most common cancer in women.
  • Prostate cancer: One study found that men drinking green tea had a 48 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer, which is the most common cancer in men.
  • Colorectal cancer: A study of 69,710 Chinese women found that green tea drinkers had a 57 percent lower risk of colorectal cancer.

Multiple other observational studies show that green tea drinkers are significantly less likely to get various types of cancer. It is important to keep in mind that it may be a bad idea to put milk in your tea, because it can reduce the antioxidant value.

5. Green Tea May Protect Your Brain in Old Age, Lowering Your Risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's

Not only can green tea improve brain function in the short term, it may also protect your brain in old age. Alzheimer's disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in humans and a leading cause of dementia. Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease and involves the death of dopamine producing neurons in the brain. Multiple studies show that the catechin compounds in green tea can have various protective effects on neurons in test tubes and animal models, potentially lowering the risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

6. Green Tea Can Kill Bacteria, Which Improves Dental Health and Lowers Your Risk of Infection

The catechins in green tea have other biological effects as well. Some studies show that they can kill bacteria and inhibit viruses like the influenza virus, potentially lowering your risk of infections.

Streptococcus mutans is the primary harmful bacteria in the mouth. It causes plaque formation and is a leading contributor to cavities and tooth decay. Studies show that the catechins in green tea can inhibit the growth of streptococcus mutans. Green tea consumption is associated with improved dental health and a lower risk of caries.

Another awesome benefit of green tea… multiple studies show that it can reduce bad breath.

7. Green Tea May Lower Your Risk of Type II Diabetes

Type II diabetes is a disease that has reached epidemic proportions in the past few decades and now afflicts about 300 million people worldwide. This disease involves having elevated blood sugar levels in the context of insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin. Studies show that green tea can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.

One study in Japanese individuals found that those who drank the most green tea had a 42 percent lower risk of developing type II diabetes. According to a review of 7 studies with a total of 286,701 individuals, green tea drinkers had an 18 percent lower risk of becoming diabetic.

8. Green Tea May Reduce Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, are the biggest causes of death in the world. Studies show that green tea can improve some of the main risk factors for these diseases. This includes total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

Green tea also dramatically increases the antioxidant capability of the blood, which protects the LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation, which is one part of the pathway towards heart disease. Given the beneficial effects on risk factors, it is not surprising to see that green tea drinkers have up to a 31 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

9. Green Tea Can Help You Lose Weight and Lower Your Risk of Becoming Obese

Given that green tea can boost the metabolic rate in the short term, it makes sense that it could help you lose weight. Several studies show that green tea leads to decreases in body fat, especially in the abdominal area. One of these studies was a randomized controlled trial in 240 men and women that went on for 12 weeks. In this study, the green tea group had significant decreases in body fat percentage, body weight, waist circumference and abdominal fat. However, some studies don't show a statistically significant increases in weight loss with green tea, so this needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

10. Green Tea May Decrease Your Risk of Dying and Help You Live Longer

Of course, we all have to die eventually. That is inevitable. However, given that green tea drinkers are at a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, it makes sense that it could help you live longer. In a study of 40,530 Japanese adults, those who drank the most green tea (five or more cups per day) were significantly less likely to die during an 11 year period:

  • Death of all causes: 23 percent lower in women, 12 percent lower in men.
  • Death from heart disease: 31 percent lower in women, 22 percent lower in men.
  • Death from stroke: 42 percent lower in women, 35 percent lower in men.

Another study in 14,001 elderly Japanese individuals aged 65-84 found that those who drank the most green tea were 76 percent less likely to die during the six year study period.

This article was reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Popular
Old White Truck / Flickr

The Last Straw? EU Official Hints Ban on Single-Use Plastic Across Europe

A top EU official hinted that legislation to cut plastic waste in Europe is coming soon.

Frans Timmermans, the first vice president of the European Commission, made the comment after Britain's environment minister Michael Gove, a pro-Brexiter, suggested that staying in the EU would make it harder for the UK to create environmental laws such as banning plastic drinking straws.

Keep reading... Show less
Flare from gas well. Ken Doerr / Flickr

Court Orders Trump Administration to Enforce Obama-Era Methane Rule

A federal judge reinstated a widely supported methane waste rule that President Trump's administration has repeatedly tried to stop.

Judge William Orrick of the U.S. District Court for Northern California ruled Thursday that Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) decision to suspend core provisions of the 2016 Methane and Waste Prevention Rule was "untethered to evidence."

Keep reading... Show less
On Jan. 24, 2017 President Donald Trump signed a memorandum to expedite the Keystone XL permitting process. Twitter | Donald Trump

Inside the Trump Admin's Fight to Keep the Keystone XL Approval Process Secret

By Steve Horn

At a Feb. 21 hearing, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the Trump administration must either fork over documents showing how the U.S. Department of State reversed an earlier decision and ultimately came to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, or else provide a substantial legal reason for continuing to withhold them. The federal government has an order to deliver the goods, one way or the other, by March 21.

Keep reading... Show less
Health

New Black Lung Epidemic Emerging in Coal Country

In a study released this month by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), federal researchers identified more than 400 cases of complicated black lung in three clinics in southwestern Virginia between 2013 and 2017—the largest cluster ever reported.

However, the actual number of cases is likely much, much higher as the government analysis relied on self-reporting. An ongoing investigation from NPR has counted nearly 2,000 cases diagnosed since 2010 across Appalachia.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Dennis Schroeder / NREL

The Facts About Trump’s Solar Tariffs – Who Gets Hurt? Who Gets Helped?

By John Rogers

The solar-related shoe we've been expecting has finally dropped: President Trump recently announced new taxes on imported solar cells and modules. There's plenty of downside to his decision, in terms of solar progress, momentum and jobs. But will it revive U.S. manufacturing?

Keep reading... Show less

Japan Confirms Oil From the Sanchi Is Washing Up On Its Beaches

By Andy Rowell

The Japanese Coast Guard has confirmed that the oil that is being washed up on islands in the south of the country is "highly likely" to have come from the stricken Iranian tanker, the Sanchi.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Dave Keeling

Is Constant Human Noise Stressing Out Wildlife?

By Jason Daley

A major study earlier this year showed something incredible. Looking at 492 protected areas in the U.S., researchers found that 62 percent of the parks, wilderness areas and green spaces were twice as loud as they should be. About 21 percent were 10 times as loud. Noise isn't just annoying—chronic exposure to traffic, generators and airplanes can lead to negative consequences for wildlife. Researchers like Nathan Kliest are just getting a handle on exactly how all that noise impacts animals. Kliest, formerly of the University of Colorado Boulder and now at SUNY Brockport, recently investigated the impact of chronic noise on birds in the Southwest.

Keep reading... Show less
GMO
Activists campaigning to regulate glyphosate in the European Union. Avaaz / Flickr

Monsanto 'Commands' Civic Group to Turn in All Communications Over Glyphosate

Avaaz, a civic campaigning network that counts roughly 45 million subscribers around the world, has been served with a 168-page subpoena on behalf of agribusiness giant Monsanto.

The document, dated Jan. 26 and sent from New York Supreme Court, "commands" the U.S.-based organization to turn in a decade's worth of internal communications by Friday, Feb. 23.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!