6 Health Benefits of Green Tea
There is no better, healthier way to warm up than with a hot cup of green tea, but it is definitely one of our favorite beverages year round, hot or cold.
There are four main varieties of green tea: Gyokurocha, Sencha, Bancha and Matcha. Green tea and black tea come from the same plant. It is the way they are processed that changes its color and flavor when you prepare it.
Breaking Down Tea
Black tea is made from fermented tea leaves, which changes its color by increasing the tannins. It has more caffeine and a stronger flavor than green tea. Green tea leaves are just plucked, dried or slightly steamed, hence the green color when brewing.
Green tea is the least processed and thus provides the most antioxidant polyphenols, notably a catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate, which is believed to be responsible for most of the health benefits linked to green tea.
In general, any tea has many health benefits. However, there is a lot of different research illustrating that green tea has specific nutritional benefits for your body:
- There is evidence that green tea aids in reducing the risk of cancer and has the ability to fight cancer. Green tea has many antioxidants, which fight the cell-damaging free radicals that are associated with cancer.
- It may have anti-aging properties. Many scientists believe the aging process is caused by free radicals. which the antioxidants fight off.
- It also may help with heart health to prevent cardiovascular disease. (However, some compiled research indicates that there is no significant improvement with the actual HDL and LDL cholesterol levels.)
- Green tea helps boost immunity. Catechins found in green tea prevent bacteria and viruses from attaching themselves to cell walls, which would then infect you. These catechins also counter the toxins released by microbes. This anti-microbial property also protects from bad breath, dysentery, diarrhea, tooth decay, indigestion, flu, cough and cold, and colitis, which is caused by microbial and fungal action.
- There is some evidence indicating that green tea helps with weight loss too, because it increases serotonin and dopamine in the brain. These hormones control appetite, mood, energy and cravings.
- There is some research showing green tea can help reduce blood sugars (some say it can prevent diabetes, but this may be taking it overboard). Of course this would be no-sugar-added green tea, and the natural alkaline nature of green tea helps reduce blood sugars naturally. Moreover, the antioxidant and astringent nature of green tea allows the pancreas to function better. This in turn, leads to better secretion of insulin and more efficient absorption of blood sugar.
A Versatile Sip
This citrus-honey green tea recipe is one of my favorite ways to enjoy green tea, hot or cold. It is really fresh and delicious. I usually don’t add the honey, just because I don’t like it too sweet and I want to avoid the extra calories.
Remember tea has no calories. The calories come from what we add to it — sugar, honey, cream and the like. You can also use matcha, which is a green tea powder, to make a variety of foods, from lattes to smoothies, ganache and shortbread. I also enjoy a occasional green tea ice cream. Yum!
Do you like green tea? How often do you have it? How do you prepare it? I would love to hear from you.
Photo Credit: Dano