Common wisdom suggests that drinking tea is not everyone’s cup of tea. Instead, a lot of people prefer taking tea capsules, fat burners, and whatever convenient form of tea there is, while others are just really in love with another beverage (also sometimes known as coffee).
Drinking tea dates back to around 2700 BCE when the Chinese used wild herbs for their medicinal value. Several books were written about its usage, suggesting that it was a common commodity at the time. In Japan, tea was once considered extremely valuable, and thus, was only drunk by the elites and the nobles. Tea was also popular for its calming purposes, and as such, was used by scholars to meditate and stay awake.
Today, the global tea market has largely diversified. Being the second most consumed beverage in the world (water being the first), tea has over 3,000 variants. The most basic are black, white, pu-erh, oolong, and green which all come from the same plant called Camella sinensis. For a time, all tea was green tea. It was the most basic and most natural form of tea, until oxidation processes were developed. Hence, whether a tea becomes black, white, pu-erh, oolong or green simply depends on how the leaves are processed.
Although most types of teas are deemed to be healthy, green tea remains to be one of the most highly regarded types of tea, especially for its varied medicinal benefits. The secret lies in its high concentration of catechin polyphenols, specifically epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG.
EGCG is an antioxidant that is studied to fight cancer, atherosclerosis, and neurodegenerative diseases. According to the American Cancer Society, ECGC “may help cause certain types of cancer cells to die in much the same way that normal cells do.” This is called apoptosis or the death of a cell. Since cancer cells do not die when they should, such benefit is highly significant. Studies also show that EGCG in test tubes can inhibit the growth of several cancer cells such as lung, breast, ovaries and liver. However, it must be noted that much scientific research is still needed to prove the potential of EGCG as a cancer-fighting antioxidant.
Aside from cancer, EGCG is also observed to prevent heart diseases and lower blood cholesterol. In Japan, where tea is widely consumed, studies show that those who drink tea more often have a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases than those who don’t. Studies also show that regular drinking of tea lowers the risk of hypertension.
Moreover, studies suggest that consuming tea in a regular basis can help improve brain functions and decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, EGCG can help with the growth of neural cells which are crucial for proper cognitive function. Additionally, since green tea also contains caffeine, the improvement of mood, alertness and memory is expected.
Green tea also contains l-theanine which increases the activity of Gamma-Amino Butyric acid or GABA in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter known for stimulating receptors that calm down activity in the brain, consequently lowering anxiety levels.
In terms of Alzheimer’s disease, the bioactive compounds in green tea are studied to have various protective effects on neurons in the brain. As such, it reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Green tea is also recognized for its fluoride content. However, it must be noted that although fluoride prevents the formation of cavities, taking in too much is bad for the health. The great thing about green tea is that it does not only fight against cavities, but also kills bacteria inside the mouth. Thus, the consumption of green tea is also associated with improved dental health.
Lastly, green tea is known to improve and boost metabolism in the body. Hence, it is commonly regarded as a weight loss remedy. Several studies also show that it can reduce fat in the abdominal region. However, a lot of studies also contradicted this result. Thus, it must be kept in mind that a well-balanced diet coupled with regular exercise is still one of the most effective ways to lose weight.
These are only some of the health benefits of drinking green tea. With the advent of scientific research and technology, much is left to be unraveled with regard to the medicinal value of this wonder drink.