You’ve probably heard that drinking green tea is good for you, right? But what exactly is it that green tea does for your health? Turns out, the benefits of green tea cover the whole spectrum of wellness.
We’ve broken out the top eight most interesting benefits for you here.
- Enhance brain health
- Prevent diabetes
- Promote cardiovascular health
- Protect bone density
- Boost eye health
- Help prevent cancer
- Help with appetite suppression
- Improve dental health
Before we get into more detail about how green tea can give you these amazing benefits, let’s get a quick refresher on what exactly green tea is, and what are the different types of green tea.
What is Green Tea?
For starters, it’s the most popular drink in the world! All green and black teas come from the Camellia Sinensis plant. Unlike black tea, green tea is made from unoxidized, or unfermented, leaves of the Camellia Sinensis bush. This makes it the most unprocessed tea you can drink, which means it delivers the richest and highest amounts of antioxidants.
Types of Green Tea
If you thought all green tea is created equal, you’re not alone. In reality, however, there’s a wide variety of green teas that differ depending on when the leaves are picked and how they are processed.
Sencha is the most common type of green tea. It comes from leaves which are grown in direct sunlight. Additionally, sencha is only made from leaves of the first harvest, which is always the highest quality. Because the leaves are picked before they spend too much time expending minerals on photosynthesis, the harvested leaves retain a higher Vitamin C content.
Gyokuro green tea is similar to sencha, except the leaves are hidden from sunlight three weeks prior to harvesting. This technique is meant to give the tea a stronger and sweeter taste than sencha. Also, by shading the leaves prior to harvest, the leaves develop an amino acid (theanine) that leads to a tea with higher amounts of chlorophyll and caffeine.
Tencha green tea goes through the same process as gyokuro, where the leaves are shaded, harvested, steamed and air dried. Tencha differs in that the leaves are never rolled. Because of this, the remaining larger leaves retain higher amounts of vitamins and minerals. Tencha also provides a higher amount of natural caffeine.
Matcha is made just like tencha (shaded, harvested, steamed, not rolled) and then it is ground up into a powder to be brewed. Matcha powder is often used for detox, cleansing, and healthy skin benefits, because of its high levels of antioxidants.
Unlike the other green teas above which are made from leaves, kukicha is made from the twigs and stems of the Camellia Sinensis plant. It is said to have a lighter flavor and fragrance than the other green teas and to be good for relaxation.
After the first harvest of leaves is taken for sencha, the leaves are given time to regrow. The second harvest is then used for Bancha green tea. This type of tea is generally considered to be less desirable. However, it does contain higher levels of fluoride. While resulting in a more bitter taste, it’s good for preventing tooth decay!
Green Tea Benefits
1. Enhance Brain Health
Did you know that memory loss and Alzheimer’s can both be mitigated by the antioxidants found in green tea? Here’s why: one of the major contributing factors of memory loss is oxidative stress on your brain cells. Interestingly, drinking green tea seems to protect the brain from this oxidative stress.
One study looked specifically at the protein plaques that cause brain cell damage. Consuming the catechins in green tea demonstrated a reduction in the amount of memory loss induced by these protein plaques. (1)
Another study focused specifically on green tea’s effect on Alzheimer’s disease. There are certain unique enzymes that are typically found in protein deposits on the brains of those suffering from Alzheimer’s. Drinking green tea inhibited the development of these enzymes. This same study also found that green tea prevented the breakdown of acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter primarily responsible for memory. (2)
2. Prevent Diabetes
If you’re interested in getting help with normalizing your blood sugar levels, green tea might be a simple solution. It is the anthocyanidins contained in green tea that can actually improve your body’s glycemic response, making this an excellent resource for those who are at risk for Type 2 Diabetes. And the catechins in green tea have demonstrated potent anti-obesity effects, which can further aid anyone battling diabetes. (3)
3. Promote Cardiovascular Health
Drinking green tea can also help you get and keep a healthy heart. A study involving over 40,000 adults found that drinking five or more cups of green tea every day reduced the risk of death from heart attack or stroke by 26%. (4)
The reason green tea has such healthy heart benefits is because of its ability to lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. (5) Studies show that people who drink the most green tea have a 28% less risk of developing coronary artery disease. (6)
It’s the powerful antioxidants found in green tea, especially the EGCG, that can help prevent the buildup of plaque in your arteries, lessening your chance of atherosclerosis. (7) Drink your tea and help your heart!
4. Protect Bone Density
Green tea has also been linked to promoting bone health. According to one study, green tea catechins were responsible for stimulating an enzyme that increased bone growth by 79 percent (8). That same study also found that green tea consumption led to an increase in bone mineralization. This is especially good news for women, who tend to experience a decrease in bone mineralization as they age.
Other research seems to indicate that green tea can help slow down the deterioration of cartilage and also reduce the inflammation caused by arthritis. (9)
5. Boost Eye Health
Interested in preserving your eyesight? Green tea catechins have also been linked to protecting your eyes from vision loss and other oxidative damage.
The way it works is actually pretty cool: when you drink green tea, the catechins are able to pass from your digestive tract through to the tissues of your eyes, where they can minimize oxidative stress for as long as 20 hours after consumption! (10)
6. May Help Prevent Cancer
Because green tea is a proven antioxidant, it is capable of repairing cell damage in your body. As to whether or not green tea can, in fact, prevent cancer, that is still scientifically uncertain. But here’s what we do know:
Green tea’s polyphenol ECG has been able to stop leukemic cells from multiplying in laboratory studies (11). And the polyphenol EGCG seems to be able to help kill tumor cells because it interferes with the process of cell replication. (12)
There is also evidence that the polyphenols in green tea can minimize damage from exposure to UV radiation. (13)
In a nutshell, there is enough scientific evidence to indicate that green tea possesses cancer-prevention qualities, but the precise mechanism of how it works has not yet been identified (14). The current consensus is that green tea’s powerful antioxidant activity is the main reason why drinking 5-7 cups per day can be a significant factor in preventing cancer.
7. Help With Appetite Suppression
Trying to lose weight but struggling with cravings? Tea to the rescue! And no, it’s not merely something to fill your belly. Green tea catechins have actually been proven to lower your ghrelin levels. (15)
What’s ghrelin, you ask? Ghrelin is a hormone known as the “hunger hormone,” and it is the primary culprit of those annoying hunger pangs. For many of us, lifestyle, environmental and biological stressors can lead to a hormone imbalance which will actually set off hunger pangs that have nothing to do with a true need to eat.
Normalizing your ghrelin levels will alleviate this problem. And drinking green tea is one of the simplest ways to do that!
8. Improve Dental Health
Want to spend less time in the dentist chair? Green tea consumption has been linked to better dental health and a decreased risk of cavities. (16)
The leading cause of tooth decay, cavities, and plaque formation is a bacteria called Streptococcus mutans. Studies have shown that green tea catechins can impede the growth of this bacteria. (17)(18) There are also a variety of studies indicating that green tea can improve bad breath. (19)(20) Sweet!
You might commonly see green tea referred to as “the healthiest beverage on the planet.” Given all of the above, it’s easy to see why! With such a tremendous amount of health-enhancing antioxidants and nutrients, green tea could be the perfect natural remedy for whatever area of wellness you seek to improve in your life.