The "health benefits of green tea" is pretty well-known.
Green tea is packed with powerful antioxidants and nutrients shown to have positive health effects on your body.
This includes improvement in brain health, weight loss, fat loss, a lower risk of cancer.
Also, let's not forget that green tea has caffeine.
Because it's a caffeinated drink, it actually makes it a pretty sweet swap option for highly caffeinated beverages like coffee, without all the yuckiness and browning of the teeth, but with added benefits of more valuable nutrients like antioxidants.
Pretty amazing alternative, if you are a health nut.
The best part is, this is not the end of it.
New research and scientific studies are now discovering there are more "green tea benefits".
Amongst those new studies is a clinical study published by University of Maryland Medical Center. In their study, researchers evidenced that women under the age of 50 who consumed 3 or more cups of green tea per day were 37% less likely to develop breast cancer compared to women who didn’t.
Considering breast cancer being the most common type of cancers for women, this finding is both remarkable and important resource for us women.
I mean, who knew you can actually drink tea to prevent breast cancer? I know I didn't.
So, the real question is, what’s in green tea that makes it so healthy?
Registered Dietitian Beth Reardon, a Boston Nutritionist explains on WebMD that the benefits found in green tea is in the catechin content.
Because green tea is not processed much before it’s poured in your cup, it’s rich in catechins.
What are catechins?
Catechins are powerful antioxidants that fight and may even prevent cell damage.
There are also other benefits to catechins such as improved brain function, increased fat loss, reduced risk of cancers and many others.
From weight loss aid to targeting breast cancer, green tea has surely evolved into a medicinal drink that caters to a myriad of illnesses.
And apparently, all it takes is just one cup a day.
So the moral of the story is, drink green tea everyday will keep doctor away.
After digging deep into the slew of research, we found:
11 Amazing Benefits of Green Tea
But before we get to the benefits, let’s set the ground straight and review a bit of the green tea's background including what it is, history of green tea, and where it originated.
What is green tea?
Green tea is made from Camellia sinensis leaves and has been cultivated for centuries.
Tea is thought to have first been harvested in 2700 B.C. by the emperor Shen Nung who was known as "the divine healer."
Today, tea is the most widely-consumed beverage in the world, second only to water.
According to Onward National Geographic, the world drinks about six billion cups of tea a day.
Tea is the national drink of China and India, each of which has more than a billion people.
Although there are 3 main varieties of tea, green, black, and oolong. The difference is in how the teas are processed.
Green tea is known as the healthiest of them all since it is made from unfermented leaves and reportedly contains the highest concentration of powerful antioxidants called polyphenols.
As I mentioned earlier in the intro, antioxidants are substances that fight free radicals, damaging compounds in the body that change cells, damage DNA, and even cause cell death.
Many scientists believe that free radicals contribute to the aging process, as well as the development of a number of health problems, including cancer and heart disease.
Antioxidants, such as polyphenols found in green tea, can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause. That's where its health and healing power comes in.
In traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, practitioners used green tea as a stimulant, a diuretic (to help rid the body of excess fluid), an astringent (to control bleeding and help heal wounds), and to improve heart health.
There are also other traditional uses of green tea which include treating gas, regulating body temperature and blood sugar, promoting digestion, and improving mental processes.
Thankfully, green tea has been extensively studied in people, animals, and laboratory experiments, and I’ve siphoned through a number of them to come up with some key takeaways.
Before further adieu, let's dig into the 11 health benefits of green tea.
1. Increase Fat Burn
Does green tea burn fat?
Yes, green tea has thermogenic properties which can help mobilize fat cells and promote fat oxidation. In short, green tea aids the process of fat burn.
There is a process called lipolysis where fat burning takes place. For lipolysis to happen the fat first needs to be broken down into the fat cell and moved into the bloodstream.
Studies have found that green tea (or more specifically, active compounds found in green tea) helps with this process by boosting the effects of some fat burning hormones.
The main important ingredients found in green tea that help inhibit an enzyme that breaks down the hormone norepinephrine is EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate).
So more enzyme, more EGCG.
What’s powerful here is that this hormone is used by the nervous system as a signal to the fat cells, telling them to break down fat. In short, more norepinephrine leads to more fat broken down.
And because more fat cells gets broken down, more fat gets released into the bloodstream and more becomes available to be used as energy by cells that need it, like muscle cells.
This is cited in the Journal of Advances in Nutrition along with a list of other studies that have shown strong evidence on green tea’s positive effect on fat burning.
Takeaway: The compounds found in green tea shows to increase the level of hormones that tell fat cells to break down fat and get used as energy by muscle cells.
Keep in mind that these health benefits can be derived both from drinking green tea as a drink, as well as taking green tea extract as a supplement.
Many of the studies used green tea extracts.
2. Lose Weight Naturally
I know that when it comes to losing weight, nothing beats eating a healthy diet (limit bad carbs) and upping your activity levels to help create the calorie deficit you need to lose pounds of fat.
But, if you’re searching for "how to lose weight naturally”, green tea is a great way to go about boosting metabolic rate and lose weight, the natural way.
I guess you can call green tea a natural metabolic rate booster.
And there are numerous scientific studies that support this green tea benefit.
We also touched on how drinking "green tea" can boost your metabolic rate and make you burn more calories all day in our previous post How to Lose Weight Without Exercise.
If you are interested, go check it out.
So, how does green tea and weight loss relationship work?
Our bodies are constantly burning calories, whether we’re sleeping, sitting down or performing fat burning exercises like HICT workout, carrying out billions of functions. This requires endless energy, whether we are conscious of it or not.
A study published in the International Review Journal Advances in Nutrition suggests that green tea can increase the amount of calories you burn even at rest.
How much more?
The increase in energy expenditure can be anywhere between 3-4%, cited by the study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
According to the earlier Advances in Nutrition study, the number can be higher and reach as high as 8%.
While these numbers may not seem significant to some, it’s quite an increase in calorie counts if you compute based on 2,000 calories a day diet.
For someone who burns about 2,000 calories per day, 3 to 4% amounts to an additional 60-80 calories per day. Yes, based on scientific evidence, green tea can possibly cancel out your calories from eating a piece of dark chocolate (62 calories) or even 1 small banana (90 calories).
If you are still doubtful whether that extra calories you get to burn from drinking green tea leads to any weight loss, here is one study that tracked actual pounds lost in green tea drinking participants.
Khon Kaen University analyzed 60 obese individuals; the group that was taking green tea extract lost about 7.3 pounds ( 3.3kg ) and burned 183 more calories per day after 3 months.
However not all studies show that green tea can actually boost metabolism. The effect may depend on the individual.
3. Combat Allergies
Green tea may help keep allergies at bay.
Yes, drinking a cup of green tea may provide some relief according to a Japanese study published in 2007 in the Journal Cytotechonology. The Japanese researchers found that the compound epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in green tea may help stop the body from reacting to allergens like pollen, pet dander and dust.
It was evident in the same study that the tea polyphenol can reduce pollen allergies.
This was the first time a methylated form of EGCG can block the IgE receptor — the key receptor involved in an allergic response. It can elicit a stronger anti-allergenic response than normal EGCG, which makes it the strongest anti-allergen compound found in tea.
Quercetin, a naturally occurring flavonol in tea, can also alleviate a histamine response, an "immune response".
Green tea may need to be added to your allergy season arsenal.
4. Cardiovascular Health
World Health Organization report Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, are the among biggest causes of death in the world.
- Heart Disease (7.4 million)
- Stroke (6.7 million)
Studies show that green tea can help lower some of the main risk factors for these diseases.
How it is believed to help is that EGCG, green tea’s powerful antioxidant inhibits the absorption of cholesterol from the large intestine, resulting in lower cholesterol and reduced risk of heart-related complications.
According to a 2011 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, green tea consumption significantly lowered the total serum cholesterol and LDL cholesterol across 14 randomized controlled trials of over 1,100 participants.
Overall, green tea intake led to significant reductions in total cholesterol — 7.2mg/dL, and mean low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (2.19 mg/dL).
In particular, drinking five cups of green tea per day is showing the largest reduction in cholesterol.
One Chinese study shows that green tea drastically induced LDL oxidation and suppress lipoxygenase activity, which protects the LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation. Because lipoxygenase is involved in the disease process, suppressing its activity produces positive effects.
Given the beneficial effects on the risk factors, it is not surprising to see that green tea drinkers have up to a 31% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and 42% lower risk of stroke compared to those who drink less than one cup per day.
This is based on a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that tracked green tea consumption of 40,530 adults over an 11-year period.
Takeaway: Scientifically evidenced that green tea lowers total and LDL cholesterol, as well as protects the LDL particles from oxidation.
Observational studies also show that green tea drinkers have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
5. Lower Your Risk of Type II Diabetes
It is reported that type II diabetes makes up 90% of all diabetes around the world.
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by the body’s inability to respond or use insulin effectively. This condition is often referred to as insulin resistance.
Insulin regulates how the body uses and store glucose and fat.
Many of the body’s cells rely on insulin to take glucose from the blood for energy.
Insulin helps control blood sugar levels by signaling the liver and muscle and fat cells to take in glucose from the blood.
Therefore insulin helps to take in glucose to be used as fuel to provide the body with energy.
While some cells in the body can take glucose from the blood without insulin, but most cells do require insulin to be present.
When the insulin can’t work to effectively to get the sugar inside the cells, the cells absorb it, become resistant to it. Now the sugar has nowhere to go, and it ends up hanging out in the bloodstream.
As a result, the body is less able to take up glucose from the blood.
This is why type 2 diabetics have high blood sugar levels and need to work to regulate it back to normal.
This is what led to high blood sugar levels and need to work to regulate this back to normal.
Nearly 300 million people worldwide is affected by Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes holds some serious health threats if left untreated.
Green tea effects on type 2 diabetes.
The results of Studies investigating the effect of green tea on glucose control and insulin sensitivity show that green tea consumption can significantly improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.
A Japanese study found that those who drank 6 cups of green tea per day saw a 33% reduced risk of developing type II diabetes as compared those who drank less than 1 cup per week.
A review of 7 different studies with a total of 286,701 individuals, show green tea drinkers had an much lower risk of becoming diabetic (18%).
Takeaway: There strong evidence that show that green tea drinkers had reductions in blood sugar levels. They also found green tea had powerful effects on lower the risk of developing type II diabetes in the long term.
6. Live Longer
Eventually mortality is unavoidable, and unfortunately it is inevitable.
In a study of 40,530 Japanese adults, those who drank the most green tea (5 or more cups per day) were significantly less likely to die during an 11 year period:
- Death of all causes: 23% lower in women, 12% lower in men.
- Death from heart disease: 31% lower in women, 22% lower in men.
- Death from stroke: 42% lower in women, 35% lower in men.
Another study in 14,001 elderly Japanese individuals aged 65-84 years found that those who drank the most green tea were 76% less likely to die during the 6 year study period.
Next time you grab that iced-green tea, you can feel extra good about yourself, given that you hold off your sugar or sweetener!
7. Better Oral Health
You’ve probably heard the famous saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Well there’s a new saying "A cup of green tea keeps the dentist away.
Yes, new research is showing that the catechin found in green tea can also have positive effects for oral health.
It’s been evidenced that the substance found in green tea can control and kill bacteria and lower the acidity of your saliva, which can help prevent cavities.
In short, green tea acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, helping control periodontal (gum) disease.
It’s also cited that individuals who regularly drank green tea have better gum health than those who did not.
Another study shows that men who drank one or more cups a day of green tea were less likely to suffer from tooth loss.
The antioxidants found in green tea along with its other beneficial properties help protect against cellular damage and tumor growth. Studies have demonstrated that patients given green tea extracts slowed the progression of oral cancer of the precancerous lesions in their mouths.
Another amazing benefit of green is it fights against bad breath by killing off those nasty microbes that make your mouth smelly. The best part is, green tea has been shown to outperform chewing gum, mints, and parsley-seed oil in its effects at preventing bad breath.
So if you want your date to be as memorable as can be, be sure to have a cup of green tea before heading off to meet your date.
Takeaway: The catechin found in green tea is shown to have positive side effects on oral health by killing harmful bacteria and other viruses. This can lower the risk of infections and lead to improvements in dental health, and reduce bad breath.
8. Reduce Risk of Cancer
Cancer is the name of the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body.
According to CancerCenter.com, cancer cells often begin to develop when the body’s normal control mechanism stops working.
And the sad truth is, cancer can occur anywhere in the body.
In women, breast cancer is most common. In men, it’s prostate cancer.
Cancer is one of the world’s leading causes of death in the world. In the U.S alone it is responsible for 589,430 deaths every year.
While oxidative damage cells can contribute to the development and growth of cancer cells, antioxidants have been proven to have a protective effect.
If you’ve been following this post, antioxidants are something green tea is full of. So it’s no surprise numerous studies have seen a lower risk of developing cancer in green tea drinkers.
According to the National Cancer Institute, over 50 epidemiologic studies in the last ten years show a link between tea with decreased cancer risks.
Researchers concluded that green tea's polyphenol, catechin epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is one of the most powerful anti-cancer compound properties.
Thanks to its incredibly high number of antioxidants.
Green tea’s polyphenols may also work to reduce proteins that are part of tumor cell growth.
This suppression of tumor cell growth is cited in study lead by Dr. Katherine Crew, assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, N.Y.
In her study, men with prostate cancer and found that green tea drinkers had markedly lower prostate-specific antigen, which is linked to prostate tumor growth.
Green tea is one of the healthiest drinks in the world, showing evidence of effectiveness in reducing the cancer risk.
9. Brain Health
Even for brain health, green tea is very promising.
Researchers at the University of Basel are finding that regularly drinking green tea may help improve brain function and slow mental decline related to aging.
This is particularly important as "5.1 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease."
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss, and other abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80 percent of dementia.
A study presented at the 2015 International Conference on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases, shows that those who drank green tea one to six days a week had less mental decline than those who didn’t.
Another study shows green tea polyphenols are considered therapeutic agents in well controlled epidemiologic studies, aimed to alter brain aging processes and to serve as possible neuroprotective agents in progressive neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease and involves the death of dopamine producing neurons in the brain.
Takeaway: The bioactive compounds found in green tea can have various protective effects on neurons and may reduce the risk of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, the two most common neurodegenerative disorders.
10. Fight Anxiety
Having anxiety? Grab a cup of green tea.
Green tea is not only high in antioxidants but also contains a compound called theanine. Theanine is an amino found almost solely in tea and known for its relaxation effects.
According to a study led by Dr. Juneja published in the Journal of Trends in Food Science & Technology, theanine acts as a neurotransmitter that boosts the brain's alpha waves. Since alpha waves indicate relaxation, there is strong evidence green tea can aid in relaxation.
Alpha waves are considered to be an indicator of relaxation.
This is cited in a study done on human volunteers.
The participants were given 50-200 mg of l-theanine and showed increased alpha waves without drowsiness.
It appears that you can drink green tea to help mellow you out, without falling asleep.
11. Digestive Health
Because green tea is made by steaming fresh leaves of the Camellia sinensis plan at a very high temperature, it unlocks a class of powerful antioxidants called polyphenols.
Polyphenols have been found to aid digestion and improve gut health.
A recent study on green tea catechins found anti-inflammatory effects may be another green benefit.
Another study from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine recently looked at how a green tea catechin known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGGG) may help in cases of colitis, an inflammatory disorder that disrupts digestive health.
They found that EGCG may hamper the signaling pathways involved in colitis inflammation. Other additional research on ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease supports these findings on green tea benefits in cases of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Green tea has been and continues to be researched extensively for its effects on certain types of cancer, effects which may have an indirect application to green tea for digestive health.
Since IBD patients are at an increased risk of colon cancer, green tea may be doubly beneficial.
There you have it!
11 amazing health benefits of green tea. Green tea should be an easy swap for high caffeinated drinks like coffee and those high sugarry energy drinks like Red Bull (27 grams per 8.4 fluid ounces).
What did you think? What suprised me the most was green drinkers have 37% less risk of developing breast cancer. For breast cancer being the most common type of cancers for women, I find this finding amazing and truly a remarkable one for all of us, women.
Growing up in Japan, I'm accustomed to drinking green tea, but I never knew the true benefits of green tea!