What is Green tea? Green tea (Camellia Sinesis) leaves are those which are preserved immediately after harvesting to prevent oxidation either naturally or by laboratory methods such as steam heat or dry steam. By processing the green tea in this way, its antioxidant contents can be preserved to the maximum which are basically responsible for the great health benefits of consuming green tea.
Composition of Green Tea
Green tea contains a chemical called polyphenol and the polyphenols in green tea are classified as catechins. Green tea contains six primary catechins namely epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), catechins, epicatechin, gallocatechin, epicatechin gallate and api gallocatechin gallate. Out of all these, EGCG is the most powerful one.
Green tea contains some of the compounds from the alkaloid group like caffeine, theobromine and theophylline. It also contains an amino acid called L-Theanine which can have a calming effect on the nervous system. These catechins are responsible for most of the benefits of green tea as it prevents accumulation of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are those active chemical compounds that are produced from different foods we eat and they usually are responsible for our cell damage and damage to our DNA which results in various complicated diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases and obesity.
Benefits of Green Tea for Health
Drinking tea as a refreshing beverage was an old concept that originated from China. But recently the varieties of tea including green tea have become a popular item for health conscious people. Research has shown that consuming green tea at moderate amounts can provide us with multiple benefits because of its chemical composition. Here are a few of the great benefits:
- It lowers the risk of various forms of cancer like breast cancer, cancer of esophagus, bladder cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, throat cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer and colorectal cancer. It does this by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.
- It helps to control a deadly disease called diabetes by regulating the glucose levels in our body.
- It also helps to prevent various cardiovascular diseases related to our heart. It can regulate blood pressure and thus can prevent the formation of blood clots which are responsible for heart attacks.
- It can boost our immune system by increasing the production of gamma delta T cells from theanine present in the polyphenol of green tea which are primarily responsible for our immune system.
- It has very strong antibacterial and anti-viral agents and that’s why it can fight most of the common diseases from common cold, influenza and headaches all the way to cancer.
- It can slow down the aging process by keeping the wrinkles of the face and the body at bay. This is because the antioxidants help to remove the active free radicals which are responsible for aging of the skin.
- It regulates the blood pressure in the body.
- It controls cholesterol levels by blocking the oxidation of LDL (bad type) and increasing the HDL (good type) and thus improves the function of the arteries.
- It can reduce rheumatoid arthritis by controlling the destruction of cartilage tissue and reducing swelling and pain due to the anti-inflammatory properties of the antioxidants.
- It can reduce tooth decay to some extent by preventing the formation of dental plaque due to its antibacterial property.
- Green tea can prevent multiple sclerosis by preventing the damage of neuronal injury of the brain.
- The antioxidants present in green tea can prevent Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease by blocking the protein that damages the nerves.
- Green tea can block the production of histamine and immunoglobulin which are responsible for many allergic actions like allergies of the eyes, skin, cold and cough.
- The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of green tea can fight against acne and the redness it causes.
- Studies have shown that green tea can prevent the formation of liver tumors in mice.
- It can help you lose weight by dissolving triglycerides which is the fat that gets deposited in the body and it also increases the basic metabolic rate (BMR).
Green Tea Doses
Up until now green tea has not been tested on children and hence its effect on their body is not known. However, any adult can switch to green tea for better health. It is recommended by scientists to consume 2-3 cups per day in order to get the required antioxidants that green tea provides.
There have been no studies that have shown any harmful effects of green tea except for insomnia if consumed over 4 or more cups per day. The reason for this is because it contains caffeine as one of the constituents, which is responsible for the insomnia. However, the amount of caffeine in green tea is much less than what is contained in coffee.
People suffering from chronic heart disease, high blood pressure, liver problems, kidney disorders or any ulcers should not consume green tea without the recommendation from a physician. This is because they might be under certain medications which may react with the chemicals present in green tea and may give some other complicated side effects. Pregnant and lactating ladies should also avoid consuming green tea. Consuming too much of green tea can cause irritability, diarrhea, nausea, headache and loss of appetite.