Food

The Many Benefits of Drinking Green Tea

You have probably heard that drinking green tea has enormous health benefits. And seemingly every week, there is new research about how drinking green tea daily… Trista - November 25, 2019

You have probably heard that drinking green tea has enormous health benefits. And seemingly every week, there is new research about how drinking green tea daily can boost your overall health and well-being. It is high in antioxidants, which neutralize nasty toxins known as free radicals that zip throughout the body and wreak havoc on cells. It contains large amounts of polyphenols, which have protective properties for cellular function. And it is an active ingredient in many weight-loss products because regular consumption of green tea can actually help people lose weight.

But the health benefits of green tea go beyond losing weight and giving a quick boost to the body’s functioning. It promotes better brain functioning, for everything from reducing anxiety to reducing the risk of developing neurodegenerative conditions, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. It also can help prevent cancer. Want to learn even more about just how beneficial green tea is and why it should be part of your daily regimen? Keep reading to learn more.

Java is the way to go for most people. Shutterstock

People In The West Largely Prefer Coffee

In the western hemisphere, people generally prefer to drink coffee over tea. And there are plenty of good reasons why – it gives people the jolt that they need to wake up and start their day. And research has indicated that coffee has plenty of health benefits, from the brain-boosting power of caffeine to its many antioxidants.

One notable exception to coffee consumption outweighing that of tea is Great Britain, where time and custom have yet to replace the proper afternoon tea. But as more people come to realize the health benefits of drinking tea, and as ongoing research demonstrates more and more health benefits, tea consumption in the West is increasing.

Herbal teas are not real tea. Shutterstock

Most Of What We Call Tea Really Isn’t Tea

If you like to drink a cup of herbal tea to relax before going to bed, or if you enjoy a nice cup of chai halfway through the afternoon, you aren’t drinking tea. Tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant, and the type of tea that people drink is based on how much those leaves are processed.

But that’s not to say that you should stop drinking herbal “tea” or chai. These drinks have their own health benefits, from the various compounds found in the flowers, herbs, and spices. They are generally very good for you, not in the least because they can help you relax. They aren’t really tea.

It has a deeper, bolder flavor. Shutterstock

The Vast Majority Of Tea Consumption Is Black Tea

Black tea is so common that in Great Britain, 165 million cups of it are consumed every single day! That is more than twice the population of the country. While plenty of people prefer to drink it hot with a splash of milk, it is a mainstay of the American South in its cold form: iced tea or sweet tea.

Black tea is made from the same plant as green tea. The difference is in how the tea leaves are processed. Black tea is more heavily processed, as the leaves are first dried out and then crushed to break the cell membranes. The leaves are then exposed to light so that they oxidize. The fully oxidized leaves are then used to make tea.

It’s a better alternative to coffee. Shutterstock

Black Tea Has Its Own Health Benefits

Anything that comes from the same plant as green tea is bound to be some healthy. Black tea has nowhere near the health benefits of green tea, but it still has an impressive amount of antioxidants and other compounds that can do your body a lot of good.

Black tea has been shown to help improve cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and even reduce blood pressure. But to obtain any of these health benefits, make sure that you don’t load your tea down with sugar or chemical-based sweeteners. Additionally, making tea from the whole leaf rather than from a tea bag will preserve more of these health-boosting properties.

Bitter but beneficial. Shutterstock

Oolong Tea Is Similar To Black Tea

If you have ever had oolong tea, you know that it has a slightly bitter taste that is similar to that of black tea. This is because both drinks are made from the same plant – camellia sinensis – and are processed in much the same way.

Like black tea, oolong tea is made from leaves that are dried out and then crushed. This crushing process makes sure that all of the leaves’ cells become oxidized. Oolong tea is then exposed to light until it becomes partially oxidized, not fully oxidized like black tea. The result is a tea that is less processed and retains more of the health-boosting compounds of the tea leaf. The degree to which these compounds are preserved and how the tea tastes depends on how long the leaves are oxidized.

White tea has a milder taste. Shutterstock

White Tea Is Much More Mildly Processed

If you want the health benefits of tea but don’t like the bitterness of black or oolong, or maybe you want something that you don’t need to drown in cream and sugar, then white tea may be for you. White tea is made from leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, but they are picked at a much younger age than black or oolong tea.

White tea is also not dried out and oxidized. It is minimally processed, which keeps the health-boosting properties much more intact than its darker cousins. It also has half the caffeine of black tea, so it may be ideal for people with caffeine sensitivity or for drinking later on in the day.

An excellent tea for those who don’t like the strong flavor of other drinks. Shutterstock

White Tea’s Benefits Are Close To Those Of Green Tea

Being a less-processed tea that is made from the same leaves as black, oolong, and green tea, white tea has enormous health benefits. It is high in polyphenols, which are plant-based compounds that help reduce inflammation. It is also high in antioxidants, which boost many aspects of health.

Despite white tea’s enormous health benefits, it is much less prevalent than its cousins. But for people who want a milder taste, white tea may be the way to go. Again, the best form is brewing it from whole leaves rather than tea bags, and make sure that you don’t drown it in sugar or chemical-based sweeteners.

You can make kombucha at home. Shutterstock

Some People Prefer Fermented Tea

Kombucha has become remarkably popular over the past few years. While people often speak of “kombucha tea,” there is no particular tea that is called kombucha. Instead, kombucha is a drink that is made by fermenting tea in such a way that it increases its health properties.

Any kind of tea – black, oolong, white, or green – can be used to make kombucha. The fermenting process infuses the drink with beneficial probiotics, as well as a fizziness that helps make it a substitute for soda. Many people now brew their own kombucha, because brewing it at home is much cheaper than buying it at the store.

Pue-erh has a more bitter taste than kombucha. Shutterstock

Another Fermented Tea Is Pu-erh

Pu-erh is a fermented Chinese drink that is made from tea in much the same way as kombucha. Fermenting the tea boosts the health benefits and also loads it with probiotics, which are essential for overall health and well-being. It has been shown to improve many health markers, such as cholesterol and blood sugar, among people who have metabolic syndrome.

Pu-erh has long been popular in China but does not have the same popularity in the West as its cousin, kombucha, does. It is more bitter than unfermented tea, but its health-boosting properties more than compensate for the taste.

The camellia sinensis plant. Shutterstock

But The Superstar Of Tea Is Green Tea

Green tea, like black, oolong, and white teas, is made from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. The difference, again, lies in how the leaves are processed. While black and oolong teas are made by immediately drying out the leaves, crushing them, and oxidizing them, green tea is made by heating the leaves directly and not oxidizing them.

While black tea is supremely popular in the West, green tea is popular in the East, particularly in China and Japan, where it originated. Cultures in this part of the world have been drinking green tea for millennia, and only recently has the West caught on to just how beneficial this drink is.

Powdered matcha is trendy. Shutterstock

Matcha Is A Form Of Green Tea

Matcha is a type of green tea that has long been enjoyed in Japan and is gaining popularity in the West. It is made from the same leaves like all the other pure teas but, again, is processed differently. Matcha is made by taking the highest quality of leaves that were grown in the shade and grinding it up into a very fine powder.

Today, people enjoy adding matcha to all kinds of foods, including sugar-loaded desserts. But be careful, as a “matcha”-based dessert will have very few of the benefits of matcha on its own. Commercial products that boast that they contain matcha usually contain a minimal amount and a highly processed, chemical-laden version. And the sugar negates any health benefits that the matcha might offer.

You can forget about pills when you have tea. Shutterstock

Green Tea Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Inflammation is the body’s immediate reaction to distress. If you cut your finger, you will probably notice that very quickly, the area around the cut swells up and turns red. This response is inflammation and is your body’s way of making sure that the wound doesn’t become infected.

While inflammation can be beneficial in the short-term, many of us experience chronic inflammation due to poor diet and lifestyle. Swelling is connected to many different diseases, from diabetes to heart disease to cancer. But green tea has properties that are proven to reduce inflammation, thereby improving overall health and well-being.

The critical chemical in green tea that makes it so beneficial. Shutterstock

EGCG Helps Prevent Cell Damage

Polyphenols are compounds that are naturally found in some plants, and that helps reduce inflammation. Green tea is so rich in polyphenols that about 30% of the leaf used to make it is nothing but polyphenols! One of those polyphenols is a powerful compound called epigallocatechin gallate, better known as EGCG.

EGCG is proven to help prevent cell damage, and green tea is full of it. Cell damage speeds up the aging process and can cause many different diseases, including cancer. Preventing and even reversing cell damage is one of the best things that you can do to keep your body healthy and prevent disease.

Cells die quickly from the presence of free radicals. Shutterstock

Green Tea Helps Neutralize Free Radicals

If you have read many health articles, you have probably heard of free radicals. Free radicals occur when oxygen in the body splits into single atoms with electrons that don’t have a partner. Those electrons then scavenge through the body, looking for another one to partner with. While the chemical process may sound harmless, and though it occurs naturally, free radicals are behind diseases ranging from Parkinson’s to Alzheimer’s to atherosclerosis. They destabilize molecules throughout the body, thereby wreaking havoc.

Green tea contains high levels of antioxidants, which reverse the oxidative stress that causes free radicals to form. These antioxidants interrupt the process in which free radicals destabilize molecules by giving them the electrons that they need. This neutralizes the free radicals so that they no longer cause harm.

Wake up more alert, so you have more hours in the day. Shutterstock

Green Tea Can Help You Stay Alert And Focused

Green tea has caffeine, but in much more moderate, more manageable doses than regular coffee. Drinking a cup of coffee in the morning can help people wake up, but when they rely on drinking coffee throughout the day, they can get jittery and irritable. Drinking too much coffee, with its high concentration of caffeine, can cause problems sleeping.

Green tea has more modest amounts of caffeine, so it can help people stay alert and focused without causing them to become jittery or have insomnia. Furthermore, its additional nutritional benefits can help you retain focus without needing as much caffeine. Consider drinking a few cups throughout the day instead of an onslaught of coffee.

Keep those brain cells working. Shutterstock

Green Tea Can Actually Make You Smarter

Caffeine does more than help you wake up and make the morning commute to work more bearable. It blocks adenosine, a compound that is naturally present in all of the body’s cells, but that can inhibit the transmission of messages across neurons in the brain.

The result of caffeine is that neurotransmitters are freer to do their jobs, and neurons in the brain send and receive messages better. The results are an improved mood, faster reaction times, and better memory retention. Because of the additional compounds in green tea other than caffeine, drinking a cup of green tea can help this process occur better than drinking a cup of coffee.

Workdays are stressful enough already. Shutterstock

It Reduces Anxiety

In addition to moderate doses of caffeine (compared to coffee), green tea has a compound called L-theanine, an amino acid that can cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain. L-theanine contains a compound known as GABA, which is a neurotransmitter that increases the production of dopamine, stimulates soothing alpha brain waves, and reduces anxiety.

Caffeine and GABA work together to produce an even greater effect than just one or the other consumed alone. The result of this combination is a caffeine boost that doesn’t give you jitters and can make you feel calm (instead of more anxious, as caffeine alone can do) and more stimulated. The result is an effect on alertness greater than that of coffee.

Shed those unnecessary pounds. Shutterstock

Green Tea Helps You Lose Weight

One study showed that green tea stimulated an increase in metabolic rate of 4% among healthy men, meaning that they were able to burn calories more quickly. Another study showed a 17% increase in fat loss. The results are precise: drinking green tea should be included in the diet plan of anyone who is trying to lose weight.

Granted, some studies about the fat-burning power of green tea are inconclusive. But that doesn’t stop it from being included in the list of ingredients in many, many weight-loss supplements. Part of this fat-burning benefit is merely caffeine, which has long been shown to improve metabolic function. The additional beneficial compounds in green tea certainly don’t hurt.

Do your research on how your tea is sourced. Shutterstock

But Be Careful How You Buy Green Tea

Tea has become immensely popular over the past few years, so popular that food manufacturers have gotten onto the bandwagon. Many commercial food products boast that they contain real green tea, but it is usually of low quality and is loaded with sugar and chemicals.

Needless to say, these commercial products are not beneficial. If you really want to enjoy the health benefits of green tea, buy it in loose-leaf form and brew it yourself at home. Don’t add any sugar – maybe just a smidge of honey – or any chemical sweeteners. The taste may take some getting used to, but the health benefits will make it worth the effort.


Too much sugar is bad so you should exercise moderation. Shutterstock

Sugar Will Reverse All Of Its Beneficial Qualities

Sugar is pretty much the worst thing that you can put into your body. Unfortunately, many people have been deceived into believing that drinking a highly processed beverage that is loaded with sugar and contains green tea is somehow healthy. It isn’t. Sugar will reverse all of the health-boosting qualities of green tea.

If you want a drink that has all of the benefits of green tea but is a bit more exciting, try kombucha. It has a fizziness that can substitute for soda and comes in many different flavors. If buying kombucha at the store is too expensive, brew it yourself at home. It will cost about $1 per gallon to make.

A cup of green tea a day is very beneficial. Shutterstock

Green Tea Can Help Prevent Cancer

Cancer is caused by cells reproducing in such an out-of-control way that tumors form and begin to overwhelm the body’s regular functioning. The result is one of the world’s leading causes of death. We all have cancerous cells in our bodies, but healthy functioning causes these cells to die before they can reproduce.

Nutritionists and scientists have long known that preventing cellular damage is vital in preventing cancer. Antioxidants, which neutralize those nasty free radicals that cause cellular damage, are our front line of defense. And green tea is absolutely loaded with antioxidants. Drinking it regularly can reduce your risk of developing cancer. For people who already have cancer or who are in remission, green tea should be part of their daily regimen.

Cancer cells disrupt the natural functions of the body. Shutterstock

Green Tea May Destroy Cancer Cells

We all have cancerous cells in our bodies. A healthy, well-functioning body will eliminate those cancerous cells before they are able to reproduce and cause tumors to develop chaotically. And green tea may play a role in promoting the death of cancer cells.

Research on the role of green tea in preventing cancer is still in its early stages, and the National Cancer Institute does not advise for or against drinking it to prevent cancer. But there have been plenty of studies on how green tea can provide some benefit in this aspect of cancer prevention.

Eliminate the presence of cancer cells in the body. Shutterstock

Green Tea Can Help Prevent Cancer Cells From Growing

Killing off cancer cells before they have the chance to reproduce and create tumors chaotically is undoubtedly of benefit. Another anti-cancer benefit of green tea is that when cancer cells do form, it can help prevent them from growing and reproducing. This quality is generated by the high levels of EGCG found in green tea.

EGCG inhibits the production of a protein known as cyclin D1, which causes cancer cells to grow. EGCG is like a soldier that destroys the cyclin D1 and prevents the cancer cells from growing, often permanently.

Without treatment, cancer cells can proliferate. Shutterstock

It Also Inhibits The Growth Of Tumors

When tumors form, they quickly generate a life of their own by causing new blood vessels to form that supply them with their own cache of nutrients. They are then able to continue growing by diverting nutrients away from healthy cells and hoarding them for themselves. The result is a double whammy – the body is less able to defend itself from the tumor because it has fewer nutrients, and the tumor has more.

But the EGCG in green tea actually helps prevent these blood vessels from forming. Studies have shown that tumors treated with EGCG, along with the polyphenols found in green tea, are smaller and have fewer blood vessels.

Science is getting ahead of the game. Shutterstock

Laboratory Studies Show Immense Success

Most of the studies that have been done on green tea and cancer have been done on a laboratory rather than on human subjects. All testing must go through rigorous laboratory trials before it can be done on humans to make sure that it is safe.

Laboratory studies on green tea have shown immense benefits of green tea as a cancer-fighting agent, particularly the high levels of EGCG that it contains. Everything from killing cancer cells to shrinking tumors points to its enormous capacities. There seems to be no contest regarding its potency and its use in anti-cancer treatments and therapies. But as always, there is a catch.

It’s not entirely foolproof. Shutterstock

But Human Trials Are Less Clear

Studies done outside of the laboratory, on human subjects, are less clear-cut about green tea’s abilities as an anti-cancer agent. There could be many explanations for this discrepancy, such as the compounds in green tea interact with cancer drugs or the concentrations in laboratory studies being much higher than in human studies (after all, you can only drink so much green tea).

So as of right now, bodies like Cancer Research UK and the American Cancer Association do not take a stance as to whether or not someone should drink green tea as part of an anti-cancer regimen. There isn’t enough research yet for them to issue an authoritative, conclusive opinion.

But it can still be beneficial for the rest of the body. Shutterstock

Green Tea Can Still Be Highly Beneficial In Cancer Prevention And Treatment

The lack of consensus on human trials and the ambivalence of the American Cancer Association and Cancer Research UK does not mean that green tea cannot help prevent or treat cancer. It can still have immense value, especially when part of a broader regimen that includes eliminating sugar and dramatically reducing meat consumption, along with a higher intake of plant-based foods.

Green tea can be great for preventing cancer and as part of an alternative treatment plan for people who have cancer, but not if it is consumed with large amounts of sugar and a mostly unhealthy diet. Drinking green tea is not an excuse for an overall poor diet.

Help your leukocytes get ahead of the game. Shutterstock

It Can Help Boost The Immune System

Cancer ravages the body to the point that people suffering from it find that their overall functioning is dramatically weakened. They may have a poor appetite, weaker muscles, and brain fog, along with an immune system that has been pulverized.

With all of the body’s resources being used to fight cancer, little is left for the immune system. As a result, people fighting cancer tend to easily fall prey to simple infections that they would ordinarily be able to fight off. While green tea may not directly benefit the immune system (though it might), it can help the body’s overall fight against infections that can quickly become overwhelming.

Try smaller cups of green tea if you’re not a big fan of the flavor. Shutterstock

It Can Help Improve Overall Health And Restore Optimal Functioning

If having cancer wasn’t enough to reduce the body’s ability to function, cancer treatments can be overwhelming. Going through radiation and chemotherapy can leave people both physically and emotionally drained, and some die from the treatment rather than from cancer itself.

Drinking green tea as part of a healthy lifestyle that is designed to build the body’s functioning back up can be of enormous benefit. It will neutralize the free radicals that can become overwhelming and cause even more damage to the body. It will also help clear the brain fog that comes with cancer and help boost the person’s mood.

Powdered matcha can be added to anything these days. Shutterstock

Make Green Tea Part Of A Holistic Anti-Cancer Lifestyle

The less-than-stellar success of green tea as an anti-cancer agent in human trials seems disheartening, but it shouldn’t be. Green tea can be a crucial part of a holistic lifestyle that is designed to prevent cancer or treat it through alternative means. A holistic lifestyle of health and well-being must include regular exercise and healthy foods.

Drinking green tea while eating hamburgers and chili cheese fries is a bit self-defeating. But green tea with fresh-squeezed vegetable juice and a plant-based meal will have multiplied benefits and help make sure that you either don’t have cancer or that you will win the fight against it.

Promote brain health. Shutterstock

Green Tea Reduces The Risk Of Neurodegenerative Diseases

Odds are that someone you know either has Alzheimer’s or died from the disease. Alzheimer’s is caused by a build-up of amyloid plaque in the brain, which prevents neurons from sending messages to each other and ultimately causes the neurons to decay and die. The result is memory loss, to the extent that the sufferer loses the ability to perform daily tasks, including getting dressed and bathing.

Another neurodegenerative disease is Parkinson’s, a condition in which neurons that control dopamine production die. The result is a loss of muscle control, so the person eventually starts using a wheelchair. But drinking green tea has been consistently shown to reduce someone’s chances of developing a neurodegenerative condition.

Alzheimer’s is more than just forgetting things. Shutterstock

Green Tea Can Prevent Alzheimer’s

An alarmingly high number of people are developing Alzheimer’s diseases, and many are concerned about what they can do now to prevent it from developing in the future. Some people are genetically predisposed to developing it, but they can reduce their chances or delay its onset until later in life. The key to preventing Alzheimer’s is green tea.

This is because the compounds in green tea protect the brain and help prevent the development of the amyloid plaques that cause Alzheimer’s. Additionally, the catechins in it help improve the flow of blood within the brain, which helps keep it clear of toxins and other damaging elements.

Keep your memory sharp with green tea. Shutterstock

Green Tea Actually Improves Memory Function

One study in Switzerland used MRI scans of people’s brains to determine how green tea might affect brain function. What the researchers found was that among participants who drank green tea, there was much more activity in the brain associated with memory. More studies are necessary to confirm results, but what seems to be clear is that green tea can significantly help with memory.

The jury is out as to how much the memory-processing part of the brain is associated with the development of Alzheimer’s. But there is no question that activities and diets that promote memory are beneficial for people who already have Alzheimer’s and can improve their overall quality of life.

You may not notice the difference, but it’s working. Shutterstock

It Organizes The Brain’s “Memory Lines” More Efficiently

Connectivity in the brain is organized along a default pattern that researchers know as the default mode network or DMN. The DMN connects different parts of the brain, such as the memory center, to other regions. It is involved in processes that range from moral reasoning, how we imagine the future, empathy, and the sense of self.

The symmetry between the brain hemispheres along the DMN helps with memory retention and even reduces aging. And MRI studies have shown that green tea helps to organize the memory lines within the DMN more efficiently so that overall brain function is improved. In other words, the brains of people who drink green tea are more efficient and less aged.

A healthier way to manage your brain and body. Shutterstock

These Benefits May Be Synergistic With A Holistic Lifestyle

There still needs to be a lot more research done in terms of how much green tea consumption is the causative factor in stronger brain functioning. What could be the case is that people who drink green tea are more social, and they drink much green tea when they are around other people. And indeed, being social has its benefits on brain health.

The jury is out on just how much green tea is responsible for the improved brain health of people who drink it. But what is conclusive that, as part of a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, regular social engagement, and unprocessed food, green tea can improve many, many aspects of health and well-being.

Sources:

“26 Types of Tea: Profiles, Potential Benefits, Side Effects,” by Michael Joseph. Nutrition Advance. October 29, 2019.
“3 Anti-Cancer Health Benefits of Green Tea,” by Susan Nair. The Truth About Cancer. January 6, 2016.
“Health Benefits of Green Tea,” by Paula Spencer Scott. WebMD.
“10 Proven Benefits of Green Tea,” by Kris Gunners. Healthline. January 17, 2018.
“Could drinking tea boost brain connectivity?” by Tim Newman. Medical News Today. September 16, 2019.

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