It seems that green tea is the new magic potion to improve health. It helps with weight loss, is loaded with antioxidants, and is delicious; So, can you drink green tea while pregnant?
At first glance, everything would seem to be advantages. However, as you well know, during pregnancy some drinks and foods that are usually healthy and do not cause discomfort, may be inadvisable. For this reason, we will analyze below what happens to green tea during pregnancy.
What is green tea?
Like the other varieties of tea, it is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. However, in this particular case we are talking about a minimally oxidized tea, that is, during its preparation, the natural oxidation process has quickly stopped, eliminating the moisture from the leaves.
By drying quickly after harvesting, the leaves hardly have time to oxidize and, therefore, the essential oils and all the properties existing in the leaves of the tea plant are maintained. Another consequence is that aromatic compounds are also less altered, which is why green tea is sometimes said to taste “more natural” than black tea.
Green tea in pregnancy: watch with caffeine
When we talk about teas, we usually mention theine. However, it should be noted that caffeine and theine are synonyms. It is the same substance whose name varies depending on the drink in which it is presented.
In any case, it is good to remember that theine or caffeine is a stimulant that, increases blood pressure, heart rate and, also, the frequency with which we need to urinate. In this way, it could cause dehydration and generate unwanted effects during pregnancy.
Did you know that the baby does not have a body prepared to handle caffeine? For this reason, it is always recommended to reduce your daily intake. Of course, keep in mind that caffeine or theine is not only present in coffee and tea, but also in soft drinks, guarana, yerba mate and chocolate!, among other products.
The recommended consumption is less than 200 mg per day in the case of pregnant women. But why?
Simply because different investigations have found that consumption above this limit is associated with an increased risk of premature birth, miscarriages and the birth of babies with lower weight.
In the particular case of green tea, as we have already seen when we made our ranking of caffeine in teas, a cup provides between 25 and 29 mg; with which, its moderate consumption would be considered within the permitted range.
Other reasons: impact on folic acid
Beyond being aware of the amount of caffeine you drink during pregnancy, it is important to consider other factors. Although there are no conclusive studies on the matter, it is believed that green tea could hinder the absorption of folic acid.
Specifically, the catechins present in tea could reduce the bioavailability of folic acid. This should be considered as folic acid deficiency increases the risk of spina bifida in infants, a condition involving a neural tube defect that can cause mild to severe mental and physical disabilities.
The researchers analyzed 518 cases of spina bifida. The results indicated that there was an increased risk of this disease among those women with a total intake of folic acid greater than 400 μg and a tea consumption of 3 cups or more per day.
Thus, although the data are not specific to green tea, the recommendation of a moderate intake would be reinforced to minimize the possible interactions of catechins with folic acid and of caffeine with the baby’s body.
In short: can you drink green tea during pregnancy?
Based on what has been analyzed, it is possible to drink this infusion during pregnancy as long as moderation is maintained. Of course, it is not the best time to drink this drink. We therefore recommend that you reduce the consumption of teas in general and replace them with herbal infusions. If you are a regular reader, you will know that the world of herbal teas is tremendously rich and that there are many options to drink infusions that do not contain any caffeine.
We have consulted that green tea consumption during lactation is assigned a low risk. Its consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding should be minimal, since there are cases of contamination of tea with cadmium, aluminum, lead, manganese and other contaminants.
Our recommendation is that you consult with your obstetrician before becoming pregnant to determine if you can continue to drink green tea regularly.
On the other hand, remember that it is advisable to start taking folic acid 3 months before seeking pregnancy to minimize the risk of spina bifida in the baby. Talk to your doctor about your concerns about green tea in pregnancy.