It can easily be said that Green Tea is the most popular health fad in the recent years. Media attention with news/magazine articles on the benefits of Green Tea and fitness enthusiasts have pushed us to try Green Tea at least once or for a period of time. Benefits such as weight loss, anti-cancer effects and more have been attributed to Green Tea. World-over, the market for Green Tea continues to be on the rise. Supermarkets have many racks set aside for various brands of Green Tea that come in various flavors. At homes too, Green Tea gives strict competition to the traditional beverages of coffee and tea, becoming the preferred morning beverage among families.
What is Green Tea?
When we think of Tea, our mind naturally pictures vast tea estates with workers plucking and dropping tea leaves into baskets. These are sent to processing units that convert the leaves to dust form that finally finds its way into our cups. Other forms of Tea such as Black Tea and Oolong Tea are produced when the leaves undergo fermentation and get oxidized to change color.
Green Tea on the other hand is the purest form of Tea that has undergone minimal oxidation. Owing to this, the leaves retain the color and the properties of goodness.
Where it came from?
Let us read a quick story on how Green Tea was discovered. The story of Green Tea dates back to the time around 2737 BC in Ancient China. Shen Nung, who is thought to be an emperor, scholar and a herbalist, was spending an evening in his garden under a tree, boiling a pot of water. He understood that drinking boiling water can keep diseases at bay. At this time, a few leaves fell into the boiling pot of water brewing the first ever pot of Tea! Upon drinking from the pot, Shen Nung found the liquid to be refreshing and stimulating. He further shared it with his ministers who also relished its taste. Legend has it that over the centuries, cultivation of tea developed and spread to different parts of the world.
Medicinal Uses of Green Tea
Chinese Medicine in its traditional form records extensive usage of Green Tea for treatments. Ancient Chinese medical practitioners have used Green Tea to relieve headaches, as a coolant for the body, improve digestion, rejuvenate the system and increase alertness. All these benefits can be directly linked to the caffeine present in Tea.
Apart from caffeine, Green Tea contains an antioxidant known as epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG which has cancer preventative properties. Owing to this, Green Tea has shot to fame in the recent years as a lifestyle drink with immense health benefits.
Health Benefits of Green Tea Extract
People who have been consuming Green Tea have pondered over its several claimed health benefits. Right from weight loss to cancer preventative properties and to even skin care, Green Tea is almost given the role of an all-rounder Ninja! Let us explore the varied benefits of Green Tea:
Keeps Us Healthy
Green Tea contains compounds known as Polyphenols including Flavonoids and Catechins. These are powerful antioxidants. During metabolism, free radicals are formed in the body which can cause cell damage. These antioxidants prevent the formation of free radicals in the body and keep us healthy by preventing major diseases.
Lower Risk Of Cancer
Benefits of Green tea in Cancer treatment – Oxidation of cells can lead to the development of cancer. The antioxidants in Green Tea, especially EGCG have a protective effect. Global studies on Green Tea have shown that it reduces the risk of various types of cancers including Breast Cancer, Prostrate Cancer and Colorectal Cancer.
Improves Brain Function
Caffeine is an active ingredient in Green Tea, which is a known stimulant. The amount of caffeine in Green Tea is however less than what is found in Coffee. Consuming Green Tea provides a different kind of active feeling. Improved mood, memory and vigilance are some of the known effects of caffeine. Another amino acid known as L-theanine, which as anti-anxiety effects is found in Green Tea.
Improves Dental Hygiene
Streptococcus mutans is a harmful bacteria found in the teeth. It causes formation of plaque, cavities and tooth decay. Several studies indicate that the catechins found in Green Tea can inhibit the growth of these bacteria and thereby improve dental health. Apart from this, catechins found in Green Tea also have inhibitory effects on influenza virus, keeping colds at bay.
Elixir of life during old age?
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are the most common neurological disorders affecting old people. In these conditions, the neurons that produce the essential chemical dopamine are killed. It is believed that catechins in Green Tea have protective effects on the neurons, thereby lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Green Tea and Hair Loss? – Explained
Green Tea is found to have several benefits for hair care:
Improves Hair Growth:
The EGCG found in Green Tea can slow down hair loss and stimulate hair growth.
Lowers Male Pattern Baldness:
In men, drinking Green Tea improves production of a hormone that reaches hair follicles through blood circulation and prevents hair loss
Green Tea extracts used in shampoos can reduce inflammation and soothe the scalp thereby reducing dandruff.
Green Tea also contains panthenol, Vitamin E & Vitamin C that help in restoring damaged hair, strengthens it and protects it from UV radiation. Panthenol can make the hair soft and reduce split ends.
Green Tea and Skin benefits
Green Tea could easily feature among your top cosmetic products. Studies indicate that Green Tea provides several benefits for the skin.
Protects from Sun Damage:
The antioxidants in Green Tea can neutralize the free radicals generated by UV rays.
Again, the antioxidants in Green Tea play a major role in conferring anti-aging properties, reducing wrinkles and fine lines.
Benefits of Green Tea Weight Loss
The best is always kept for the last. People have been ever curious about the weight loss benefits of Green Tea. Let us explore it in length:
Green Tea increases fat burning. The EGCG in Green Tea activate fat burning genes and help in reducing fat around the abdomen
To burn fat, it must be first be broken down and moved to the bloodstream. A hormone norepinephrine is required to signal the fat cells to break down. EGCG in Green Tea increases the level of this hormone thereby leading to increased fat metabolism.
Additionally Green Tea improves metabolism and helps to burn 3-4% more calories every day
It has to be kept in mind that though many studies indicate that Green Tea boosts metabolism and increases fat burning, its effects are quite modest. It is advantageous to add Green Tea to a weight loss program that includes a well-planned diet and exercise regime. Green Tea however cannot replace a comprehensive weight loss plan.
Side Effects of Green Tea
Yes. Green Tea too has its share of side effects. Too much of anything is good for nothing. This adage goes well with consumption of Green Tea. The immense benefits of this drink can drive people to down more than 5 cups a day. However, Green Tea too must be consumed in moderation. Some of the side effects of Green Tea include:
Consuming too much Green Tea can worsen anaemia in people already suffering from it
Caffeine in Green Tea may cause irregular heart beat
Drinking too much Green Tea can increase the pressure within the eyes. This condition is known as Glaucoma
The caffeine content in Green Tea can worsen anxiety
Again, the caffeine in Green Tea can worsen diarrhea and cause symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Green Tea increases the level of calcium flushed out in the urine. This can weaken bones and lead to Osteoporosis
Several cases of reported liver damage have been linked to extracts of Green Tea
Role in Diabetes:
Caffeine in Green Tea may affect the blood sugar level. People having diabetes and drinking Green Tea must constantly monitor their blood sugar levels
Method to make the perfect cup of Green Tea
Green Tea Bags
The advantage with Green Tea is the convenience of preparing a cup wherever you are. All you need is a cup, some water and Green Tea. If you have Green Tea bags, use this method to create your perfect cuppa!
- Heat water to about 80 – 90 degree Celsius. Ensure water doesn’t boil.
- Pour the water into the cup.
- Place the tea bag into the cup.
- Allow it to brew not more than 2-3 minutes. When the Green Tea infuses into the water, you will see the change of color.
- If preferred add a spoon of honey and enjoy your cup.
- Remember: Green Tea is to be had without milk. Milk can destroy the antioxidants in tea.
Green Tea Leaves
- Depending on the number of cups of tea to be made, take water in a pan.
- Add Green Tea leaves to the water (1 spoon per cup).
- Heat the water until the tea leaves reach the bottom of the pan.
- Remove the pan from the stove and filter the tea into cups.