Tea is the second most commonly consumed beverage in the world... after water. Potentially the most popular tea of those touting good health, green tea can provide benefits towards life longevity, weight loss, and energy. And for those of us proudly obsessive coffee drinkers, it may be worth the while to start trading in our mug for a cup of tea ever now and then. However, not all green tea is created equal. To reap maximum healthage from green tea (that we will soon discuss), be aware of the quality of the tea and the proper method of preparation depending on its packaging.
What is Green Tea?
The history of green tea begins with the Chinese, dating back to the 8th century when the method of steaming the leaves was first discovered. Green tea, along with black and oolong, is made from the plant Camellia sinensis. It is consumed all over the world: for pleasure, and for the potential health benefits it provides. Of the teas from Camellia sinesis, Green tea is the only one not fermented, so it contains the highest benefit of all teas. Most commonly, this tea is prepared by steaming; this process helps preserve the natural polyphenols which contribute to the health promoting properties.
Phytochemical & Active Compound
Green tea consists of polyphenol flavaniods, particularly subclasses flavanols and flavon-3-ols. Within the flavon-3-ols, green tea is about 70% rich in Catechins. Catechins are known as natural phenol antioxidants. The four main catechins are epigallocatechin gallate [EGCG], epigallocatechin [EGC], epicatechin gallate [ECG], and epicatechin [EC]. Green tea has higher amounts of catechins than any other tea. EGCG is the most prevalent catechin and it has shown to play an important role in antioxidant and anticancer effects.
Health Benefits of Green Tea
This tea has potent antioxidants that, with high intake, could contribute to decreased risk of a disease. It also contains antimutagenic, an antioxidant characterized by anticarcinogenic effects. Due to its anti-inflammatory response, these effects are good for insect stings, protects against free radicals, and decreases risks for cardiovascular disease and stroke. The polyphenols green tea provides can be protective against certain types of cancer; namely, breast, lung, colon, and pancreatic cancers. In some cases, it has also bee shown that habitual consumption of green tea can reduce the risk of developing hypertension. Consuming six or more cups of green tea per day may reduce the risk for developing type II diabetes. The same research showed that, over the course of the study, participants exhibited lower body fat percentages, smaller waist circumferences, and better regulated blood glucose levels. Consequently, consuming tea Catechins, especially EGCG, has an anti-obesity effect and may help decrease body fat (along with exercise, a healthy diet, and blah blah blah). Lastly, but certainly not least, catechins are an active ingredient in a topical ointment for the treatment of genital and perianal warts.
Metabolism of tea flavaniods begin in the stomach. The flavonols that were absorbed via the small intestine, and ones that were not absorbed, undergo catabolism in the small intestine. They are, then, transported back through intestinal lumen to the large intestine where they catabolized in the liver. There has been research to believe that catechins are so effective because they easily stick to proteins and block bacteria from adhering to cell walls and disables it from destruction.
Green tea consumption amounts vary per disease. The typical recommended amount is three cups per day. Preparation of 1 ounce of tea leaves in 8 ounces of boiling water provides 240-320 mg of polyphenols. Research suggests five or more cups per day of green tea may be beneficial in preventing CVD and general metabolic health. Green tea supplements should be taken with caution only under medical supervision. It is generally okay to take less than 1 g of EGCG in supplemental form, but is still highly recommended to consult a physician before administering.
Preparation of Green Tea
- Heat measured pan of water to 175 degrees
- Use 1 tsp of tea leaves per 8 oz of water
- Steep for 2-3 minutes
- Strain and cool
- Enjoy tea warm or cold!