Author: Christin Sander, Health Writer
Tea is one of the most popular beverages consumed worldwide. It has no calories, is inexpensive and provides many health benefits. Green tea has been used medicinally in China for over 4,000 years and for good reason. The healthiest of teas, green tea has shown promise for preventing cancer, battling obesity and heart disease and for promoting dental health and strong bones. In eastern cultures, green tea is considered an important overall health and longevity tonic.
Catechins are a type of antioxidant found most abundantly in green tea leaves and are what provide the health benefits. Although black tea comes from the same source, it is allowed to ferment and oxidize, reducing the amount of catechins.
Regular consumption of green tea may reduce the risk of bone fractures. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help prevent bone loss and increase the amount of bone building cells. Drinking a cup a day, unsweetened, may also decrease the risk of tooth loss.
The EGCG catechins in green tea boost thermogenesis, the heat production in the body that burns calories. Regular consumption of four or more cups per day, combined with a healthy diet and exercise, has been shown to further decrease body fat over just diet and exercise alone.
Population-based studies in areas where tea drinking is prevalent have shown that the antioxidants in green tea may help prevent coronary artery disease. It also lowers total cholesterol and raises good HDL cholesterol. Animal study results suggest green tea may block cholesterol absorption in the small intestine while also helping the body rid itself of cholesterol.
The polyphenols in tea kill the bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease. Green tea also contains natural fluoride to promote healthy teeth. Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss. Regular consumption of green tea can fight damaging bacteria and also strengthen bones and prevent loss.
A study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry shows EGCG is able to prevent amyloid-beta proteins from attaching to brain cells and killing them. Although the study was performed in a lab and has not been proven in humans, it is an important step in the understanding of Alzheimer's. Research has also shown that the polyphenols in green tea bind with toxic compounds in the body, protecting brain cells. This can help prevent not only Alzheimer's but other forms of dementia and age-related memory loss.
Green tea has multiple health benefits, making it an excellent choice for everyone. For those who find it difficult to drink multiple cups of green tea every day, there are natural supplements available that can provide all the same health benefits without excess caffeine consumption. Supplements can also help ensure the correct amount of antioxidants since catechin content varies a great deal based on the type and brand of tea.