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Green tea goodness

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It's been dubbed 'the healthiest beverage in the world' and is a lifestyle staple in Japan, China and Korea. But what makes green tea so healthy?

Made from the dried leaves of the camellia plant, camellia sinensis, green tea has long been celebrated in Japan and China for its potent health-boosting properties. Unlike its black counterpart, green tea is made from unfermented tea leaves, which contain polyphenols – plant compounds with antioxidant properties that are thought to help protect cells, boost the immune system and reduce the effects of ageing on the skin. Green tea is also often linked with heart health benefits and weight-loss, and its caffeine content may help benefit memory and concentration.

Heart benefits
Green tea is laden with flavonoids known as ‘catechins’ which can help prevent the oxidation of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol – the type that contributes to atherosclerosis (furring of the arteries). Studies showed that those who drank the beverage experienced significant widening of the arteries compared to those who drank placebo (hot water).[i]

Research also suggests that green tea may help reduce some of the risk factors for metabolic syndrome, a precursor to cardiovascular disease, especially obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and raised cholesterol.[ii] [iii]And that’s not all. A study involving more than 40,000 Japanese adults found that those who drank up to five cups of green tea per day had a 26 per cent lower risk of death from heart attack or stroke than those who drank none, according to the Harvard Heart Letter.[iv]

Weight control
Thanks to its high catechin content (30 - 40 per cent of its dry weight, compared to just nine per cent in black tea), green tea is thought to promote weight loss. A review of studies reported that the catechins found in green tea effectively stimulated heat production (which encourages fat burning), resulting in significant weight loss and a reduction in waist circumference among participants.[v] Plus, each cup of green tea contains around 35mg of caffeine which has a stimulating effect on metabolism and may increase weight loss.

 

Free radical protection
The antioxidant effects of polyphenols in green tea are thought to help protect cells from damage by free radicals - unstable oxygen molecules which damage healthy cells and contribute to the chronic diseases associated with ageing, such as Alzheimer’s and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Numerous studies, published by the American Society for Nutritional Sciences, suggest that the flavonoids and polyphenols found in abundance in green tea seek out and combine with free radicals before they have chance to damage healthy cells.

How do I get it?
Green tea can be enjoyed as a hot drink made either with loose leaves or a herbal teabag, and tastes delicious on its own or infused with lemon, or ginger. Studies suggest that you may need to drink several cups a day for optimum benefit. Don’t like the taste? Try a supplement, such as Healthspan's High Strength Green Tea, which provides the same benefits as several cups of tea.

DID YOU KNOW? ‘Gunpowder tea’, imported from China, is simply green tea presented in tiny pellets resembling gunpowder. When placed in hot water the leaves slowly unfold and voila! Ready to drink.

The Nutrition Expert editorial team compiles articles with the help of Healthspan's experts to answer key questions from our community as well as researching common health topics and news.

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