Green tea is the healthiest beverage on the planet. It is made from Camellia sinensis leaves that have undergone minimal oxidation during processing. Green tea originated in China, but its production has spread to many countries in Asia.
Several varieties of green tea exist, which differ substantially due to growing conditions, horticulture, production processing, and time of harvest.
Green tea 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:
1. Green tea is loaded with bioactive compounds that can have various beneficial effects on health.
Green tea, or tea in general, is not just a typical drink. When a tea leaf is brewed, many of its bioactive compounds make it into the final drink, which contains large amounts of important nutrients.
Green tea, in particular, 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.
Choose a higher quality brand of green tea, because some of the lower quality brands can contain excessive levels of fluoride.
2. Green Tea Can Improve Brain Functions and Make You Smarter
Green tea’s key active ingredient (among other biochemical compounds) is caffeine, which is a known stimulant. Green tea contains caffeine, but it does not have as much as what coffee has, but it does the trick; it can produce the same response you are looking for in a coffee without producing the “jittery” or “heart-palpitating effects” we get from too much coffee.
Caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine. This eventually increases the firing of neurons and the concentration of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine in our brain keeping us awake and sharper. Caffeine consistently leads to improvements in various aspects of brain function, including improved mood, vigilance, reaction time and memory.
Among caffeine, green tea also has 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. This is particularly the reason why green tea can deliver the same effect coffee gives us, but with milder and different kind of “buzz” than coffee – L-theanine and a small dose of caffeine.
You can expect more stable energy and being much more productive when you drink green tea, compared to coffee.
3. Green Tea Increases Fat Burning and Improves Physical Performance
Google “list of fat burning foods or drinks”, scan the first five results and you will always see green tea in the list.
In one study in 10 healthy men, green tea increased energy expenditure by 4%. Another study showed that fat oxidation was increased by 17%, indicating that green tea may selectively increase the burning of fat.
A word of caution: While a significant number of scientific studies suggest green tea can increase metabolism and aid fat burning, the effects still depend on the individual. So, what might work for another person, might not work for you.
Green tea contains caffeine. 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%, on average.
4. Antioxidants in Green Tea May Lower Your Risk of Various Types of Cancer
Cancer is one of the world’s leading cases of death. Most cancer acquired by man is due mainly to our lifestyle – what we put in our body.
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% 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% 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% lower risk of colorectal cancer.
- Multiple other observational studies (Japan) 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
We have mentioned earlier that green tea can improve our brain functions. Well, it does not just do that. It can also protect our brain in old age.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in humans and a leading cause of dementia. Parkinson’s disease follows as the 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
Speaking of green tea catechins, well, it’s a big deal. 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 (31, 32, 33, 34).
Studies show that the catechins in green tea can inhibit the growth of streptococcus mutans (streptococcus mutans is the primary harmful bacteria in the mouth. It causes plaque formation and is a leading contributor to cavities and tooth decay). Green tea consumption is associated with improved dental health and a lower risk of caries (35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40).
7. Green Tea May Lower Your Risk of Type II Diabetes
Type II diabetes is a disease that has reached epidemic proportions and afflicts about 300 million people worldwide. Type II diabetes begins with insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to respond to insulin properly. As the disease progresses a lack of insulin may also develop. This form was previously referred to as “non insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus” (NIDDM) or “adult-onset diabetes”. The primary cause is excessive body weight and not enough exercise.
According to studies, 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% lower risk of developing type II diabetes. Another good news for green tea lovers, according to a review of 7 studies with a total of 286,701 individuals, green tea drinkers had an 18% lower risk of becoming diabetic.
8. Green Tea May Reduce Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
In 2014, the World Health Organization released a list of the top 10 causes of death in the world. Guess what? Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, are the biggest killers in the world.
Moreover, green tea also 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% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
9. Green tea can help you lose weight and lower your risk of becoming obese.
It was mentioned earlier that green tea boost one’s metabolic rate in the short term. Indeed, it is helpful in losing weight, too. Several studies show that green tea leads to decreases in body fat, especially in the abdominal area.
To illustrate this point, allow us to share with you one of these studies: Two hundred and forty men and women were recruited to conduct a diet-trial for 12 weeks. In this study, the green tea group had significant decreases in body fat percentage, body weight, waist circumference and abdominal fat.
10. Green Tea May Decrease Your Risk of Dying and Help You Live Longer
In a study of 40,530 Japanese adults, those who drank the most green tea (5 or more cups per day) were significantly less likely to die during an 11 year period:
- Death of all causes: 23% lower in women, 12% lower in men.
- Death from heart disease: 31% lower in women, 22% lower in men.
- Death from stroke: 42% lower in women, 35% lower in men.
Another study in 14,001 elderly Japanese individuals aged 65-84 years found that those who drank the most green tea were 76% less likely to die during the 6 year study period.
So, you better start drinking green tea. If you are not convinced by the evidence we’ve presented, well, it’s up to you.