There’s nothing like a good cup of green tea. Its antioxidant properties, its small amount of caffeine and its delicious flavor make it a healthy and perfect decision to take at any time of the day.
Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world after water. In China, Japan, Vietnam and other East Asian countries, green tea is, without a doubt, the daily drink and not only because of its taste.
Green tea has shown some really interesting health benefits.
The essentials of green tea
Green tea does not go through an oxidation process during its production process. This factor differentiates it from other types of tea and is the main responsible for its richness in antioxidant compounds.
During oxidation, the components of the tea leaves are transformed, modifying their flavor and health properties. It could be said that green tea maintains its properties less altered than other types of tea.
There are many varieties of green tea, with significant differences in flavor between Chinese, Japanese and Indian teas. Green tea also lends itself to combinations with other plants such as jasmine, mint or even with toasted rice, such as the famous and peculiar Japanese genmaicha.
Green teas often provide fresh, herbal, and fruity flavors. The variety of growing areas and production methods create a generous range of flavors available.
Caffeine in green tea
There are several factors that make it difficult to determine the amount of caffeine in a tea based on its variety. The area of cultivation, the type of leaf and the time of infusion make it difficult to generalize.
However, the most widespread information is that a cup of green tea contains between 25 and 35 milligrams of caffeine. Matcha, a famous variety of green tea, tends to contain more caffeine, between 40 and 60 milligrams per cup. This would be considerably less than coffee, which contains between 80 and 135 mg of caffeine per cup.
It should be noted that caffeine is not the only stimulating agent that green tea contains. Green tea is also rich in an amino acid with stimulating effects, L-theanine. L-theanine increases awareness and mental acuity without the side effects of caffeine
Health properties of green tea
Green tea, in addition to being delicious, has many beneficial properties for health. Its richness in components with antioxidant properties is, without a doubt, one of the keys.
Reduces the risk of cancer
More than 50 epidemiological studies have been conducted since 2006 linking tea consumption and cancer risk reduction. Some of their results have been inconsistent and work continues to isolate factors and determine their relationship with cancer prevention. Variables such as the type of tea, the way of consuming it, the presence of specific compounds and genetic differences and people’s lifestyles interact and affect the results.
What has been determined to date is that green tea is a great source of antioxidants thanks to the polyphenols it contains. One of the most interesting properties of these is their ability to eliminate free radicals and protect the DNA of our cells from the damage caused by these, a factor usually related to cancer.
As described, polyphenols have shown properties to inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells in laboratory and animal studies.
Other studies have shown the effectiveness of another component of green tea, catechins, in hindering tumor growth by preventing angiogenesis, a phenomenon essential for tumor proliferation.
Colorectal cancer is the most frequently diagnosed in the population and its relationship with the proliferation of certain types of bacteria in the intestinal microbiota has been studied. This study identified that the consumption of green tea can alter the composition of the microbiota and promote the growth of a healthy flora that reduces the risk of suffering from this condition.
Helps lose weight
Overweight and obesity continue to increase. According to a study, in just a decade, 55% of women and 80% of men will be obese or overweight. This will entail an associated health cost of 3,000,000 euros.
The best way to avoid being overweight and related conditions is to combine physical activity with a healthy diet. Also paying attention to drinks is something that can help.
The diet industry has popularized green tea extract as a tool to aid in weight loss.
The results of some studies support these properties. Green tea can affect metabolism and increase fat burning according to a study. This is due to the catechins and caffeine in green tea, which help to oxidize and burn fat. In addition, catechins facilitate the synthesis of fats in the liver.
A study concluded that people who had regularly consumed tea for more than 10 years had a lower body fat index and a smaller waist diameter. Epidemiological studies suggest the possibility that green tea is a valid strategy for the treatment and prevention of obesity and diabetes.
Prevents cardiovascular diseases
LDL cholesterol is related to an increased risk of some diseases and is popularly known as bad cholesterol. A direct relationship between the level of cholesterol and the risk of suffering a myocardial infarction.
Green tea can help us in the fight against cholesterol, since it has beneficial effects that several studies have focused on clarifying.
The intake of green tea or its extract caused significant reductions in blood LDL cholesterol concentrations.
In a study carried out, it was identified that the consumption of green tea is associated with a decrease in serum concentrations of total cholesterol, triglycerides and atherogenic index. In this way, green tea reduces several indicators related to cardiovascular and liver diseases.
Green tea has antidiabetic properties. According to a study, consumption of green tea improves glucose metabolism.
In the same study, a sample of the population was analyzed. A 33% reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes was found in subjects with an especially high consumption of green tea (>6 cups/day) compared to those who consumed less than one cup per week.
Research suggests that green tea helps regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
Has stimulating effects
We call the caffeine found in tea theine, but don’t be fooled. It is the same compound and has the same stimulating effects.
However, the caffeine in tea interacts with other components that change the way it works. Keep reading.
And relaxing (even if it seems contradictory)
L-theanine is an amino acid found only in tea that has relaxing properties.
L-theanine increases serotonin and dopamine levels and its neuroprotective, anxiety-reducing, and antidepressant effects have been documented in animal studies.
In combination with caffeine, L-theanine induces a state that, for lack of better terminology, we might call “relaxed alertness.” In other words, a cup of tea will clear your mind but won’t make you nervous like a cup of coffee. This occurs because L-theanine modulates the effects of caffeine, making them slower and more stable.
Reduces the risk of cavities
Green tea has properties to eradicate infectious agents. According to the results of this study, daily consumption of green tea may have a positive impact on the treatment of gum-related diseases.
Numerous studies have been conducted on how green tea can help prevent cavities, many of them relying on the properties of green tea to eradicate bacteria related to their appearance.
Strengthens the bones
Osteoporosis affects more than 2 million people. This skeletal disease can affect men and women, although it is more frequent in this group. It is estimated that 1 in 4 women suffer from osteoporosis after menopause.
A study concluded that drinking tea regularly can increase bone density in women by an average of 5%. This result came after analyzing the bones of 1,256 women between the ages of 65 and 76, divided between tea drinkers and non-drinkers.
Green tea consumption can mitigate bone loss and decrease the risk of osteoporotic fractures. Therefore, green tea is a good dietary supplement that can strengthen your bones.
The information collected to date suggests that oxidative stress plays an important role in the onset of neurodegenerative diseases.
Currently, it is believed that polyphenols in the diet could have therapeutic effects on brain aging processes and serve as possible neuroprotective agents in progressive neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
The wealth of polyphenols in green tea makes it an excellent way to incorporate them into our diet.
Green tea is absolutely healthy to drink in moderate doses but, like everything in life, it is best not to overdo it.
You should know that a maximum amount of caffeine consumption of 400 mg per day for an adult and 200 mg for pregnant women. The amount of caffeine in a cup of green tea can vary, but could contain around 30mg (even more for matcha).
Doing the math, this would mean that you can have more than 10 cups of green tea without worrying about caffeine, but there are other factors as well. Despite the numerous properties of green tea to improve our health, experts recommend drinking a maximum of three cups per day. Going beyond that is considered excessive consumption.
Possible adverse effects of consuming green tea
There are studies that document the appearance of some adverse effects related to the consumption (often excessive) of green tea. Most would be related to the natural presence of caffeine and its effects on the body. An excess of tea can cause nervousness, increased heart rate, sleep disorders, irritability, headaches and diarrhea.
Green tea consumption should be eliminated or in any case limited if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. A high consumption of caffeine has been linked to harmful effects on pregnancy.
Tea can cause problems falling asleep, especially in those who are sensitive to caffeine.
Another possible effect of consuming the caffeine in tea is to increase blood pressure.
Other possible adverse effects detected in green tea (in addition to black), is that it hinders the absorption of iron in the diet. This could be especially important for people who suffer from anemia.
However, it’s important to note that drinking tea between meals seems to have a minimal effect on iron absorption, so if you don’t take it as a side with a meal, this effect isn’t important.
Basic tips for the preparation of green tea
Without a doubt, you can easily find commercial brands of green tea in your usual store. Green tea is one of the most popular teas in both the East and the West.
Do not forget that green tea is a delicate tea and sensitive to excess temperatures. Remember that you should not use boiling water for its infusion. Let the temperature drop a bit before pouring it over the leaves. If not, you will get bitter tastes due to the development of tannins.
We recommend that you do not overdo the rest time of the infusion either. Again, steeping the tea for too long will promote bitter flavors. If you have doubts, look for the instructions that manufacturers often put on the packaging or, failing that, take a look on the wise Internet.
Food supplements with green tea
Due to its properties, several products derived from green tea have prospered in the market.
One of them is green tea extract, a mixture prepared from tea leaves in pill format. This preparation is rich in polyphenols and flavonoids, both substances with antioxidant properties.
In short, green tea extract could help you benefit from all the properties of tea without having to drink a cup. Honestly, although it may be comfortable, we strongly recommend that you stick with the traditional method.
Regularly prepare yourself a good tea, relax, enjoy its taste and, by the way, do your health a favor.