01 Apr It’s a (Green) Tea Party- and you’re invited!
Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. While we in America tend to prefer our Java, tea, and particularly green tea is fast gaining popularity throughout the world based on its potential health benefits. This month’s newsletter focuses on green tea and some of its health benefits.
Did you know that black tea, white tea, green tea, and oolong tea are all derived from the same plant (Camellia Sinensis). The difference is in how the leaves are prepared. Green tea differs in that its leaves are not oxidized and remain un-wilted. Therefore, the active constituents in the leaves are unaltered. White tea is prepared from wilted but un-oxidized leaves. Oolong tea leaves are wilted and partially oxidized. Black tea leaves are fully oxidized and wilted.
Teas contain a group of antioxidants called catechins to which many of their health benefits are attributed. These are highest in teas which are unoxidized (green and white tea).
The health benefits of green tea include the following:
1) Green tea is protective against cardiovascular disease: It mildly lowers total cholesterol levels, decreases LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and increases HDL (“good”) cholesterol. In addition, it protects against atherosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”) by preventing oxidative damage to LDL cholesterol.
2) Green tea has anticancer effects: Many, but not all, studies have demonstrated decreased risk of several types of cancer in humans (including bladder, breast, ovarian, colorectal, esophageal, lung, pancreatic, prostate, skin cancer, and stomach cancer) in regular tea drinkers. It may also inhibit the metastasis (or spread) of cancer in the body.
3) Compounds in all teas may reduce the risk of cavities by decreasing plaque formation and may have antibacterial effects on oral bacteria causing cavities.
4) Green tea stimulates the immune system and has topical antibacterial properties.
5) Green tea may be helpful in protecting against liver damage.
6) Green tea improves gut bacteria and may be useful in situations in which gut bacteria has been disturbed (such as in diarrhea or when antibiotics have been taken).
7) Green tea has also been linked with improved metabolism and ability to loose and maintain weight.
Beyond these benefits, tea has been consumed for centuries for its refreshment, warmth and comfort in social settings or during quiet times. These “psychological benefits” should not be undervalued.
Green tea is generally considered extremely safe and free of side effects. There are a few notes which bear mentioning in this regard:
– Green tea does contain caffeine (unless it has been decaffeinated) and, in large quantities, can cause insomnia and anxiety especially in those prone to these conditions.
– Also, teas bind iron in the intestinal tract and people with iron deficiencies should avoid drinking green tea with their meals.
Most green tea research is based on the amount consumed in Asian countries on a daily basis- roughly three cups. I generally do not recommend that the average person take a green tea extract concentrate or an encapsulated product. There is no pill substitute for a good cup of tea! Simply add a cup or two of brewed green tea to your daily routine. Better yet, substitute green tea for one of your cups of coffee (omit the cream and sweetener!). You can sweeten it lightly with honey, agave syrup, or stevia. You may even enjoy iced green tea in the summer. Incorporating green tea into the diet is a healthy way to benefit from one of nature’s great antioxidants.
Let the brewing begin!
Please Note: This information is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a licensed health care practitioner is recommended for anyone suffering from a health ailment.You are free to use the information in this newsletter or pass it on to others, but please keep it intact and credit it to Dr. Leat Kuzniar, ND.