In recent years, tea has attracted a lot of attention for its many health benefits. For years Asian cultures have used tea for many medical purposes, and science is proving out what Asians seem to have known all along – tea has many healthy benefits.
Among tea, green tea seems to provide the most health benefits. This is because green tea, unlike black tea is not fermented during its processing. Green tea leaves are left in their more natural state, compared to the leaves that are fermented. In their natural state, tea leaves retain all of their natural anti-oxidants, known as catechins.
Anti-oxidants are important to our health because they protect our bodies from free radicals. Free radicals are oxygen containing molecules that are created as a by-product of our digestive processes. Free radicals left unchecked damage our cells and DNA, leading to disease and aging.
Anti-oxidants keep these free radicals in check, ensuring that they’re wiped out of our bodies before they can do damage. Anti-oxidants are found in many plant products, including fruits, vegetables, cocoa and coffee.
But, it seems that the most potent anti-oxidants may be those found in the tea plant. The primary protective anti-oxidant, or catechin, in tea is a substance known as EGCG.
EGCG is associated with a lower risk of cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. It also appears to naturally regulate blood sugar, so it may have potential in the prevention and treatment of diabetes. EGCG has also been associated with assisting in weight loss.
For years it was assumed that green tea was beneficial to weight loss simply because it contains caffeine. Caffeine has been shown to speed up the metabolism, helping you burn more calories each day.
However, there have been studies that indicated that green tea is more effective than other caffeinated beverages in aiding weight loss, suggesting that something in addition to caffeine is doing the trick. In addition, green tea is lower in caffeine than black tea, coffee and colas, yet it aids weight loss more than any of these beverages.
It is believed that this magic ingredient that makes green tea a more effective weight loss aid than its more caffeinated counterparts is the tea catechins – primarily the EGCG. To further advance this theory, a study was conducted in Japan, evaluating healthy Japanese men who were overweight.
The participants in this study were divided into groups with similar weights and body mass indexes. During the twelve week study, the participants were fed either a bottle of tea containing 690 mg of tea catechins or a bottle of tea containing just 22 mg of tea catechins.
At the end of the study, the group ingesting the larger amount of tea catechins each day had lost significantly more weight than the group ingesting the smaller amount of tea catechins. In addition, their BMI, waist circumference and overall body fat were reduced significantly compared to the control group.
Not only did the group lose more weight and reduce their body fat significantly, but their cholesterol levels were also significantly reduced.
This is just another in a long list of research studies outlining the benefits of the catechins found in green tea. And, one of the great things about using green tea as a health supplement, whether for weight loss, or overall health protection, is that green tea has no side effects.
Green tea is an overall healthy beverage, and is well tolerated by most people, even those who are caffeine sensitive. So, even if green tea doesn’t help you lose weight, you can rest assured that you’re consuming a perfectly healthy and safe beverage. Plus, you’re protecting your body from many serious diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.
Many studies have linked green tea with a reduced risk of heart disease. This risk reduction is likely due to the fact that green tea can reduce your cholesterol levels, and seems to prevent the cholesterol that is circulating in the blood from turning into arterial plaque.
This is significant because this arterial plaque narrows the arteries, leading to blockages. Once arteries are blocked, this can lead to heart attack and stroke.
In addition, green tea has been linked to a reduction in the risk of some cancers. Cultures where green tea is widely consumed have significantly lower incidences of breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and gastrointestinal cancers. In some studies, green tea has even been shown to be an effective adjunct treatment for some forms of cancer.
So, as you can see, drinking green tea is a good idea, even if you don’t need to lose weight. However, particularly if you are trying to drop a few pounds, a regular dose of green tea may be able to help you shed those pounds more quickly and easily.