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The Benefits of Green Tea

Saturday, 30 March 2019 23:37

No doubt you’ve heard the hype about green tea in the last several years. Green tea seems to be everywhere these days, and in everything, including ice cream, cosmetics and soap. Even if you’re more of a coffee person than a tea drinker, you can still get the benefits of green tea from supplements (more on that in a bit).

What is Green Tea, Exactly?

Chances are good that the tea you’ve had the most exposure to growing up in the US is orange pekoe or black tea. While these types are ideal for making good old fashioned sweet tea, they don’t have nearly the nutritional value that you’ll find in green tea.

Grow up in China or Japan, however, and you’ll have been raised on green tea. It is made from the dried and ground leaves and buds of an evergreen shrub called Camellia sinensis. The plant, and the tea that is made from it, originated in China centuries ago. However, it has grown in popularity and demand to such a large extent that it is now produced in other countries, including Japan and India.

Green tea is typically prepared by placing the ground leaves into hot water and allowed to steep for a few minutes. Green tea is said to be the world’s healthiest drink. It is most widely known for its high concentration of antioxidants. As you may know, antioxidants are, literally, substances that inhibit oxidation. To understand why this is beneficial to the human body, you must first know a little bit about free radicals.

What Are Free Radicals?

Free radicals are the natural result of the metabolization of oxygen in the body. Free radicals  cause damage to the cells of the body. They may lead to premature aging of skin cells and may even contribute to the development of diseases, including certain types of cancer.

Antioxidants are the only substances that can neutralize free radicals. While antioxidants can’t undo damage that has already been done, they can stop new harm from occurring. No wonder some cultures have sworn by green tea for hundreds of years!

How to Consume Green Tea

The obvious answer to “how do I consume green tea” is to drink it. Indeed, that is the preferred method of intake for most people. In fact, health professionals recommend drinking it freshly brewed for optimal health benefits. Bottled green tea is also healthy, but some of its nutritional benefits are lost in processing and bottling.

However, as already noted, you don't have to drink it to get its health benefits. You can also find it in capsule and liquid supplement form.

What's The Good Stuff in Green Tea?

The antioxidants in green tea come from the catechins found in green tea leaves. You may have heard of polyphenols, which are a type of phytochemical. These are natural organic chemicals found only in plants,  and they contain antioxidants. Catechins are one of several types of polyphenols, and they are what give green tea its free radicals-fighting super powers.

Here is what else you'll get out of that steaming cup of green tea:

Theanine: A natural amino acid which helps to combat and calm anxiety.

Vitamin C: Responsible for growth, maintenance and repair of cells and production of collagen; thought to have immune system benefits.

Vitamin B2: Also known as riboflavin; helps break down protein, fat and carbohydrates in the body and maximizes oxygen absorption.

Vitamin E: Contributes to skin health, helps prevent heart disease, boosts immunity, decreases cancer risk, reduces and prevents inflammation.

Beta Carotene: A yellow/orange pigment found in certain vegetables and fruits that is converted into vitamin A in the body; an antioxidant that boosts immunity, essential for eye, skin and mucous membrane health.

Folic acid: Necessary for production of red blood cells, helps maintain and produce cells, helps prevent fetal birth defects of the brain and spinal cord when consumed during pregnancy.

Caffeine: Boosts short term energy levels, may help burn fat by increasing metabolism, may decrease risk of type 2 diabetes.

Green Tea for the Skin

Green tea can also be found in topical applications (creams and ointments) and may have some benefits when applied directly to the skin:

* May effectively treat skin problems such as rosacea, pigmentation disorders and dermatitis

* Has been shown to be an effective treatment for some types of warts

* May add further protection from UV damage when used with sunscreen

* May reduce skin inflammation

The Closest Thing to A Miracle Elixir You’ll Find

There is an element of mysticism surrounding green tea, some of which may be more hype than fact. There is still a lot to be learned about the benefits of green tea, and some of the “evidence” of the benefits of green tea is anecdotal. While it is by no means a magic formula for eternal youth or health, green tea may very well be the next best beverage to pure water in terms of its value to the human body.

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