Nutrition: Top 5 Health Benefits of Green Tea

Nutrition: Top 5 Health Benefits of Green Tea

  • Author, Jo Lewin
  • Role, Registered Nutritionist, for BBC Good Food
  • Twitter,
Nutrition: Top 5 Health Benefits of Green Tea

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Is green tea healthier than black tea? Does it contain caffeine? Can it help prevent disease? Registered Nutritionist Jo Lewin reviews the health benefits of green tea.

What is Green Tea?

All types of tea, even your regular cup of tea, are made from the Camellia sinensis plant. Green tea owes its name to the emerald green color created by the infusion of these unprocessed and unfermented leaves.

With origins dating back 5,000 years, green tea is commonly drunk and grown in East Asia, where its health properties are highly valued.

Nutritional benefits of green tea

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Green tea has no nutritional value in terms of macronutrients, but its main benefits lie in the bioactive compounds it contains.

The tea you use, the temperature, and the steeping time all have a significant effect on the levels of these compounds.

Warm, ambient temperatures are most conducive to the preservation of antioxidant compounds. So let the boiled water cool slightly before pouring it over the tea leaves, and let it steep for 2 to 3 minutes.

Top 5 Health Benefits of Green Tea

1. A high content of protective polyphenols

Compounds called polyphenols are known to protect the body against disease and contribute greatly to a healthy and balanced diet.

These antioxidant compounds are found in a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and other unprocessed foods.

Green tea has many health benefits, many of which are attributed to the fact that it is largely unprocessed and rich in these plant compounds.

The main bioactive compounds in green tea are flavonoids, the most potent being catechins and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).

2. May Boost Brain Function

Green tea contains a number of natural stimulants, including caffeine, which, although lower than that of coffee, can still help maintain alertness and concentration.

Additionally, green tea is a source of the amino acid, L-theanine, which has a relaxing effect, increasing mood-enhancing brain chemicals including GABA, dopamine and serotonin.

The beneficial polyphenols in green tea may also help slow the effects of aging on the brain.

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3. May Boost Fat Burning

Some research suggests that green tea may boost metabolic rate and increase fat burning.

It is thought to be due to the natural thermogenic properties provided by caffeine, and by plant compounds such as catechins.

4. May Support Blood Sugar Control

Studies reveal that green tea can improve insulin sensitivity and, therefore, have a beneficial effect on blood sugar control.

5. May Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

According to studies, green tea is a useful drink to help reduce the risk of heart disease and related conditions, such as stroke.

Its beneficial effects on cholesterol management are one of the ways it can help.

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Is green tea safe for everyone?

If you have been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia, you should know that like other teas, green tea contains natural compounds called tannins.

These compounds interfere with the absorption of iron. For this reason, it is useful to avoid drinking tea with an iron-rich meal and to allow at least an hour to pass before drinking an infusion.

Due to the beneficial effects of green tea, a number of “health” products contain traces of green tea. However, evidence for the effectiveness of these products is limited.

If you’re hoping to use green tea medicinally, consult your GP to make sure you can do so without risk to your health.

If you are sensitive to caffeine, it is advisable to limit the total number of caffeinated beverages you consume in a day.

Too much caffeine can disrupt sleep and, in some people, increase anxiety; if this is your case, try to reduce your intake and have your last caffeinated drink around noon.

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