Benefits of Green Tea Antioxidants & Catechins
Ahh, wonderful camellia sinensis, green tea. You’ve probably heard a lot about green tea in the media recently but may still be wondering, “why all the hype, and why now?” A majority of this hype is in response to the surge of recent studies examining green tea and life-extension, anti-cancer, fat loss, and anti-aging. And those are just recent studies.
Did you know that tea is the second most widely consumed beverage in the world? Green tea being just one of many different types. However, it seems that green tea has been stealing the spotlight when it comes to talking tea. The apparent health benefits from green tea consumption and supplementation have been linked to hundreds of scientific studies over the past few decades, and more recently, the past five years. It’s no wonder why green tea supplements such as pure extracts and green tea antioxidant extracts are flying off of shelves. They really work, and the science is there to support their claims. Product reviews suggest people are not only feeling healthier every day, but are also observing shorter lengths of sickness, increased energy and feelings of well being while at work.
The Benefits of Green Tea
The benefits of green tea stretch far and wide. Green tea has been shown to promote cardiovascular health and reduce serum cholesterol levels in both lab animals and humans. Further research and studies support green tea’s ability to reduce dental issues. And if all that wasn’t good enough for you, here’s an extension of additional benefits from green tea:
- Stimulant: Green tea contains natural caffeine, about 15-40mg per 8 oz. cup. This is about 1/3 to 1/4 the amount of an equivalent serving of black coffee, so you don’t have to worry about drinking green tea and “crashing” later. ‘Nuff said.
- Astringent: Green tea bags can be used immediately after steeping as a natural astringent for oily or swollen skin. Lie down in a comfortable position, close your eyes and simply place the warm tea bags over your eyes, removing them when they become cool. The natural acidic tannins found in green tea act as a natural astringent, tightening and rejuvenating perturbed skin. Also, the high concentrations of vitamin C and vitamin E found in green tea further benefit the skin when applied topically. Hey, it’s like getting a treatment at the spa for $0.30. Try it!
- Diuretic: Green tea is also a natural diuretic. Diu-what? In other words, it helps your body eliminate excess water weight. This also means that green tea assists your body in eliminating toxins.
- Antibacterial: Many new acne medications and skin creams are springing up with green tea formulas, after research concluded green tea’s ability to fight bacteria, especially acne vulgaris. Green tea ointments and creams can be used to hydrate and replenish dry skin as well as provide additional antioxidant protection to your body’s largest and often most neglected organ.
- Anti-fungal: I’ll spare you the misery of having to navigate fancy scientific words in the quoted study and get right to the point. EGCG, epigallocatechin gallate, a potent catechin found in green tea, displayed anti-fungal properties when performed in vitro with various strains of common fungi.
- Anti-carcinogenic: This may be green tea’s most promising contribution to the health community. Green tea EGCG was found to inhibit protein kinase C activation by teleocidin, a tumor promoter, in a Japanese study of green tea extract and tumors (Yah, whatever that means). In layman’s terms, that means green tea has anti-cancer properties at the cellular level. It doesn’t cure cancer, but it helps prevent it. My buddy has always joked with me, “while drinking green tea, you could be fighting cancer and not even know it.” Sheesh, sounds like he was right on target this entire time. Perhaps this is why the Japanese and other Asian countries, full of habitual drinkers of green tea, have some of the lowest cancer rates in all the world.
- Thermogenic: Green tea’s role in fat loss is not to be understated. Although it hasn’t been shown to have an extreme effect on fat loss, it wasn’t weak either. One study showed that dieters supplementing with green tea were able to lose an additional 4.3 pounds of fat over the control group over an 8-week period.
- Anti-inflammtory: Green tea has been shown to reduce inflammation linked with Crohn’s disease as well as ulcerative colitis, the two types of IBD. Further research is underway to see if green tea antioxidants have a place in preventing and treating colon cancer, since both types of IBD increase the risk for colon cancer.
- Pro-Immunity: The L-theanine found in green tea has been shown to bolster the immune system as well as promote relaxation and feelings of mellow euphoria. Additionally, L-theanine is currently being studied for its ability to lower cortisol and reduce stress.
Well, sounds like there aint much green tea doesn’t do. Some scientists even suggest that we’ve only uncovered the tip of the green tea iceberg, which is scary to think about considering the extensive list of already confirmed benefits of green tea. At this rate we might be running our cars off of green tea in a couple of decades (Okay, maybe not, but you get the point). Alongside resveratrol, green tea antioxidants, catechins, and polyphenols could be a focus constituent in life-extension formulas and anti-aging products in the years to come.
How to Best Incorporate Green Tea Into Your Lifestyle
Here are my recommendations on how to incorporate more green tea into your lifestyle. Remember, keep it simple and don’t stress!
- Drink it!: Drink green tea every day. Studies show that the maximum benefits of green tea are observed at around 5-6 cups a day, every day. Seem like a lot? Well, yeah, maybe, but how many Diet Cokes, other sodas, or cups of coffee are you currently drinking each day? Here’s a thought: the study mentioned 5-6 cups, 8 oz. each, brewed with one average sized tea bag. To hit your quota of 5-6 cups a day, double bag it (brew two bags per cup) and drink it strong. It gives the green tea a much bolder taste and makes it so you only have to have 3 super concentrated cups each day. I like to drink a double-strength cup in the morning before breakfast, after lunch, and another double-strength cup in the afternoon as a “pick me up.” Trust me, the extremely bold taste of a double-strength cup of green tea will instantly WAKE YOU UP. If you’re having a downer day, try it. At the least it’ll make you feel half way alive again.
- Supplement with it!: In addition to drinking green tea, taking green tea supplements is an affordable and easy way to get large amounts of green tea antioxidants put to good use. I recommend pure green tea extracts, synergistic antioxidant blends, and green tea macha powder. See a complete list of green tea antioxidant supplements here.
- Lotions and Shampoos: I also recommend trying green tea body lotions and shampoos and conditioners, not only because the smell nice, but because they are natural and revitalizing. Don’t overlook the powerful benefits of the trans-dermal application of green tea; the antioxidants found in green tea absorb incredibly well through the skin and provide benefits that can’t be realized in the same manner as oral consumption.
So as you can see, green tea is where it’s at. If you’ve only ever drank black tea, mix it up and try green tea for a change. C’mon, ditch the black and Go Green! Make the switch- live longer and feel great!
- Josic J, Tholen Olsson A, Wickenberg J, et al. Does green tea affect postprandial glucose, insulin and satiety in healthy subjects: a randomized controlled trial. Nutr J. Nov2010;9(1):63.
- Nutrition Industry Executive: http://digitaledition.qwinc.com/publication/?i=58387
- Drinking Tea May Boost Immune System; “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” (Vol. 83, pp.355-361).