The health benefits of drinking green tea have been known traditionally since Medieval times in China. Since the 8th century people have consumed green tea for its therapeutic value, which we now know extends from heart-healthy benefits to improved brain function to cancer-fighting effects.
Scientists are now cataloging the many health benefits of green tea by conducting clinical studies. Here, you’ll discover what the scientific community knows about green tea and what it can do for your health.
Here’s why green tea is so good for you
Researchers have identified one single compound that’s responsible for the wide range of healthy effects you get when you consume green tea: catechins. These are super-strength antioxidants that have incredibly powerful and healthful effects on cellular activity.
When a nutrient acts on the human body at the cellular level, it can act as the springboard for endless positive effects on health. Catechins have been shown to be more powerful than vitamins C and E when it comes to reducing oxidative damage to cells (1).
Catechins may also fight disease in other ways as well, but more research is needed.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School have concluded that green tea’s antioxidants improve health in at least 7 proven ways, with the potential for numerous more.
Here are the 7 proven benefits of drinking green tea
#1. Green tea reduces the risk for certain types of cancer.
Scientists have shown over an over an association between drinking green tea and lowered risk of a handful of cancers. These include:
- esophageal (2)
- breast (3)
- lung (2)
- ovarian (4)
- pancreatic (5)
- stomach (6) (7)
- prostate (8)
More research is needed to move from “association” to “cause”, but clinical studies suggest it may be the polyphenols that help prevent cancer. These compounds may also even kill cancer cells.
One study of almost 500 women who had breast cancer showed that the women who consumed the largest quantities of green tea had the least spread of cancer. Plus, women in early stages of the disease were less likely to have the cancer come back when done with their treatment (9).
Studies like this one have been performed for every type of cancer listed above, each with positive conclusions about drinking green tea.
#2. It lowers cholesterol.
The proof has come in many times over: green tea lowers LDL cholesterol (the “bad” type). And it doesn’t just lower the LDL a little bit. Studies have shown that drinking green tea produces fantastically wonderful results in terms of lowering bad cholesterol (10).
The implications for prevention and treatment of heart disease are dizzying for the medical community.
#3. It boosts brain power.
This is probably the newest discovery about green tea benefits: it improves brain function. With a special emphasis on improving what researchers call “working memory”, green tea may someday be used to treat dementia (11).
Given this data, we soon be seeing green tea appearing in smart drugs as well!
#4. It boosts weight loss.
Until recently, doctors cited green tea as a weight loss aid only because it made a great substitute for drinking sugary soda. But now, evidence is appearing that green tea may actually take a more proactive role when it comes to helping you drop pounds.
A Penn State study (12) put some fat mice on a 16-week diet of green tea and exercise. They found that inclusion of green tea in the diet reduced body mass by 27.1%. The mice also lost abdominal fat at a rate of 36.6%.
The green tea also produced significant diabetic health benefits as well.
#5. It lowers blood pressure.
This benefit is truly exciting for doctors and patients with heart disease: drinking green tea may lower the risk of high blood pressure by as much as 50%. As little as half a cup per day may do the trick (13).
To reap this benefit, you’ll have to drink green tea every day for at least a year before you see much effect on blood pressure, according to researchers.
#6. It increases blood flow.
This is perhaps the main reason drinking green tea is such a heart-healthy activity. In healthy patients, green tea may reduce cardiovascular risk by improving blood flow in the brachial artery (14).
What’s more, it has to be green tea not black tea, not caffeine.
#7. It stabilizes blood sugar.
Anyone with diabetes knows that keeping your blood sugar levels stable is essential to health. Even those without diabetes can benefit from the effects on blood sugar levels that green tea can impart.
It may even lower blood sugar, according some scientists. Again, it’s the catechins that do the magic. They have been shown in clinical studies to lower the postprandial blood glucose in human subjects (15).
The final word about green tea
Green tea is so beneficial to health in so many ways, it has scientists and doctors excited about the future of health care. Add to these proven health benefits the calming, stress-reducing benefits of drinking green tea and you’ll see why it’s considered a superfood. It may simply be the most healthiest thing in the world to drink.
All references retrieved 10/16/2015
- Benefit of drinking green tea: The proof is in – drinking tea is healthy, says Harvard Women’s Health Watch.Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/benefit_of_drinking_green_tea
- Yuan JM.Green tea and prevention of esophageal and lung cancers.Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21538848
- Inoue M et al. Regular Consumption of green tea and the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11369139
- Shang M et al. Green tea consumption enhances survival of epithelial ovarian cancer.
- Shankar S et al. EGCG inhibis growth of human pancreatic tumors…through modulation of FKHRL1/FOXO3a and neuropilin. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3508371/
- Takeshi Sano et al. Green Tea and Gastric Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM200103013440911
- Setiawan VW et al. Protective effect of green tea on the risks of chronic gastritis and stomach cancer. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ijc.1231/abstract
- Bettuzi S et al. Chemoprevention of human prostate cancer by oral administration of green tea catechins in volunteers with high grade prostate intraepithelial neoplasia: a preliminary report from a one-year proof-of-principle study.
- Green Tea. University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/green-tea/
- Zheng XX. Green tea intake lowers fasting serum total and LDL cholesterol in adults: a meta-analysis of 14 randomized controlled trials.Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21715508
- Schmidt Andre et al. Green tea extract enhances parieto-frontal connectivity during working memory processing. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00213-014-3526-1
- Mulhollem, Jeff. Research suggests that green tea, exercise boost weight loss, health. Retrieved from http://news.psu.edu/story/310179/2014/04/02/research/research-suggests-green-tea-exercise-boost-weight-loss-health
- Warner, Jennifer. Tea Drinkers Reap Blood Pressure Benefits.Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/news/20040726/tea-drinkers-reap-blood-pressure-benefits
- Alexopoulos N.et al. The acute effect of green tea consumption on endothelial function in healthy individuals. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18525384
- Lahirin, Rita et al. Additional benefit of higher dose green tea in lowering postprandial blood glucose. Retrieved from http://mji.ui.ac.id/journal/index.php/mji/article/view/1167