Recently, while my friends and I were sharing a laugh over a cuppa java, I looked across the table at Amanda’s cup and realized there was no ebony liquid in it. Instead, she was delicately sipping green tea. One of Amanda’s jokes?
“Not at all,” she explained. “It has no calories, tastes great hot or cold, and the scientific evidence is compelling that it can treat countless medical conditions.”
“She’s right,” I conceded, sheepishly shoving my latte to one side. “There’s an amazing amount of research proving that tea is great for your health and green tea may be the best.”
Just to get the record clear: Green, black, and white teas all come from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis. The difference is in the processing.
Green tea is minimally processed, so it has the highest levels of four major antioxidants in the catechin family–epicatechin (EC), epicatechin gallate (ECG), epigallocatechin (EGC), and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)–that keep cells healthy and prevent the deterioration of oxidative stress that comes with aging and leads to problems ranging from heart disease to cancer.
Any type of tea is healthy, says Tufts University tea researcher Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, but green tea has a higher concentration of those all-important catechins.
Here’s to Long Life
The American Heart Association reports that drinking two or more cups of tea a day reduces the risk of dying of a heart attack by 44 percent. Japanese research shows that people who drink green tea have fewer cancers and less chance of dying from any cause than those who never sip the savory brew.
Researchers from around the world have shown that drinking green tea is one of the best things you can do for your heart. The flavonoids in green tea lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol and help prevent the artery-clogging plaque that leads to heart attacks by relaxing blood vessels, thus allowing blood to flow more freely.
Reduce Your Risk of Cancer
Drinking a cup of green tea a day can cut your risk of breast cancer by 29 percent, according to a study from the University of Southern California, including for those with high risk factors for breast cancer such as family history, low physical activity, or a higher-than-recommended alcohol intake.
Green tea can actually slow the most common form of cancer in men. Mayo Clinic research proves that the catechins in green tea can retard the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Two other studies from Indiana University and New York’s American Health Foundation show that green tea is protective against the cancer-causing effects of smoking and helps slow the growth of cancerous lung tumours.
French research suggests that the catechins in green tea somehow stop the production of an enzyme that encourages cancer cells to grow, effectively stopping the wild cell division typical of cancerous tumours.
If you’re trying to shed some extra pounds, add green tea to your diet plan. Weight loss experts theorize that green tea acts as a natural carbohydrate blocker by inhibiting the body’s production of amylase, the digestive enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates, so they pass through your system unabsorbed.
By delaying the breakdown of carbs until further down the digestive tract, insulin peaks are prevented, adding the special benefit of curbing cravings caused by blood sugar drops, says tea researcher Lester Mitscher, PhD, author of The Green Tea Book (Avery, 1997).
French researchers found that dieters who combined their weight loss plan with green tea before each meal lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t drink tea. Another French study shows that people who added green tea to their daily routine lost 4.6 percent of their body weight and 4.48 percent of their waist circumference in just three months–without changing their diet or exercise routines.
It seems Amanda’s already sold, but if you’re not yet totally convinced, consider this: Preliminary studies give even more credit to green tea to help lower blood sugar, prevent the onset of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, protect your teeth from cavities, and even to prevent sunburn when it’s applied in a creme form.