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Green Tea Time

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Did you know that sipping a cup of green tea can help fight cancer, prevent gum disease, slow the aging process and aid fat loss?

Did you know that sipping a cup of green tea can help fight cancer, prevent gum disease, slow the aging process and aid fat loss?

Thousands of research studies have confirmed the beneficial effects of green tea. According to Michael Murray, ND in his new book How to Prevent and Treat Cancer with Natural Medicine, "Both green and black tea are derived from the same plant, Camelia sinensis. Of the nearly 2.5 million tons of dried tea produced each year, only 20 percent is green tea." Green tea, as science has confirmed, is the healthier choice as it contains compounds called polyphenols that are known for their powerful healing effects.

The manufacturing process is what makes the difference between green and black tea. Green tea is produced by lightly steaming the fresh-cut leaf, stopping fermentation. Oolong tea is partially fermented and black tea is fully fermented. During the fermentation process enzymes convert the polyphenols, which provide fabulous healing actions, to compounds with much less activity. Green tea is not fermented, therefore providing high levels of polyphenols.

Cancer-Fighting Compounds

The most abundant polyphenols in green tea are flavonoids, the most active of which is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a substance that inhibits tumour growth. EGCG is the most promising natural anti-cancer compound ever discovered. Well controlled clinical trials have shown green tea to prevent cancer of the pancreas, colon, small intestine, breast, lung, and stomach.

Fat-Burning Tea

Research has also been conducted into green tea's fat-burning properties. A small study revealed that participants who took three green tea capsules daily increased their fat burning without accelerating their heart rate, safely melting fat away.

Soothes the Flames of Inflammation

In 1999, several studies were published in Sweden, Taiwan and the United States describing green tea's efficacy in inhibiting the cox-2 enzymes which cause inflammation in those with arthritis. Not only was green tea found to be as good as cox-2 anti-inflammatory medications like Celebrex and Vioxx, but green tea also contains 51 other anti-inflam-matory compounds. The USDA Phytochemical Database also identified 15 anti-ulcer compounds in green tea, supporting evidence that long-term use can inhibit ulcers caused by prolonged use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications including ibuprofen.

Green Tea and Blood Sugar

When trying to prevent or treat diabetes we can either enhance insulin function, which helps control blood sugar levels, or suppress blood sugar levels through other means such as diet. According to the USDA tea study, when humans in clinical trials ingested 200-500mg of green tea catechins before ingesting starch, which gets converted to glucose by digestive enzymes, glucose production was inhibited and the uptake of glucose was suppressed. The uptake of glucose by the intestine to the bloodstream is suppressed by green tea catechins. Those studying the anti-obesity effects of green tea believe this is the reason for green tea's fat loss benefits.

Eliminates Bad Breath

Research performed at the University of British Columbia found that green tea tablets dissolved in the mouth were more effective than other bad breath products in reducing foul breath caused by bacteria. Green tea's oral benefits don't stop with eliminating bad breath. The journal General Dentistry reported that green tea catechins are also able to inhibit the growth and invasion of oral cancer cells.

Calming the Caffeine Kick

Worried about getting too much caffeine from green tea? Drinking three cups provides about the same amount of caffeine as one cup of drip coffee. Three cups of green tea provide approximately 240 to 320mg of polyphenols. A green tea extract standardized for 80 percent total polyphenol content can be obtained from a daily dose of 300 to 400mg in capsules or pills. Green tea also contains L-theanine that negates the negative side-effects of caffeine, including hypertension and sleep disturbances. L-theanine is very well researched and shown to promote relaxation without drowsiness, improve learning and concentration, support immune function, lower cholesterol and reduce stress and anxiety. Now you know why you can drink several cups of green tea and not develop the caffeine jitters. Decaffeinated green tea or green tea extracts are also available.

The History and Culture of Green Tea

In Asia, green tea has been a common and popular drink for thousands of years. China is the unofficial tea capital of the world, responsible for much of tea's recorded history. Chinese scholars have recognized and documented its medicinal benefits as far back as 3000 BC. The Cha Ching, or "Tea Book" written by Lu Yu around 780 AD is regarded as the first authority on cultivating, harvesting, and preparing of all types of tea.

Perhaps the most significant cultural aspect of tea is the Japanese tea ceremony. This ancient ritual is rooted in Buddhist monks who brought tea from China to Japan around the thirteenth century. The monks drank cups of tea in honour of Buddha, and also used the drink to combat fatigue when meditating for long periods. Sen No Rikkyu is Japan's most renowned tea master. He honed the monks' practices into the ceremony we know today, which involves whipping powdered green tea, called macha, into a lovely foam. The ceremony incorporates the Buddhist principles of harmony, tranquility, simplicity, and grace. Just as important as the tea itself are the movements of the participants, the simple d?r of the tea room, and the artistry of the cups.

Of course, tea isn't only an Asian phenomenon. With the introduction of tea to Europe in the 17th century came tea houses and tea parties. The British tradition of afternoon tea time is a ritual still observed by many Westerners today as a daily period of rest, comfort, and peace.

Cooking with Green Tea

Green tea is especially well-suited to salads, vegetable dishes, and seafood. Toss some lightly brewed leaves over a green salad or cooked vegetables for a grassy kick. Mix dry crushed leaves with other spices for a tasty rub for fish, prawns, or chicken. Add brewed leaves to a fish stuffing. You can also use green tea either on its own or with oil as a marinade. Try adding garlic, ginger, chiles, or lemon the possibilities are almost endless, and that's just for savoury dishes! To use green tea in sweets, add leaves to butter and melt. Then strain out the leaves and use the butter in cakes, breads, and cookies. The end products will be infused with the tea's subtle, earthy flavour.

Diana Rosen, co-author of Cooking with Tea, says that when used in cooking, tea should be brewed at lower temperatures for longer, to avoid acidity and bitterness. Always use purified water to obtain the best possible flavour.

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