Green tea is made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis by steaming fresh leaves at high temperature. The method of production ensures a minimal oxidation during processing , therefore maintaining important molecules that are considered to be responsible for the many benefits of green tea. It originates in China and its cultivation has spread to the West with many new varieties being created in the countries in which it is presently grown. So here are a few reasons to start drinking green tea or keep drinking it if you are already a fan.
Green tea benefits
1. Green tea contains many bioactive compounds such as polyphenols, like flavonoids and catechins, that function as powerful antioxidants , which reduce the formation of free radicals in the body and protect cells from damage and, in the long run, disease.
2. Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in developed countries. Green tea has been shown to counteract main risk factors, such as the oxidation of LDL cholesterol that contributes to the formation of plaques which can choke arteries and lead to a cardiovascular event.
3. To a certain point, green tea consumption can be associated with weight loss. It increases the basal metabolic rate with about 4 percent, which on its own is not that significant, but coupled with a balanced diet and exercise can make a difference over time.
4. Oxidative damage contributes to the development of cancer and antioxidants have a protective effect. Green tea drinkers have a lower risk of developing breast, prostate and colorectal cancer, and all health-fingers are pointing to the rich content of antioxidants found in green tea.
5. Green tea contains caffeine, so it will improve short term brain function pertaining to vigilance reaction time, mood and memory. However, it has less caffeine than coffee so you can indulge and get all the perks without the downside of becoming jittery. Moreover, it also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which can work synergistically with caffeine to improve brain function.
6. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are the most common neurodegenerative disorders and leading causes of dementia in the the elderly. Studies show that catechin compounds can have protective effects and may reduce the risk of developing these conditions, therefore suggesting the green tea’s long term positive effects on the brain.
7. Green tea seems to have positive influence on oral health. The catechins may inhibit the growth of bacteria lowering the risk of infections, cavities and improving overall dental health. Additionally, studies have shown that it can reduce bad breath, most likely due to its antibacterial effect.
In order to maximize the benefits of green tea consumption, choose a high-quality tea since it will be richer in the antioxidants that make it such a healthy drink. Furthermore, when brewing green tea, the water should not be heated above 80 degrees. Bringing it to boiling point will destroy some of the catechins and deprive you of getting all the beneficial compounds.
As far as taste goes, green tea can be a little to bitter for some, so adding a teaspoon of honey will sweeten your drink with the bonus of combining 2 healthy products (the honey should be added after the tea cools a little in order to preserve its properties). A bit of lemmon will aid the absorbtion of the catechins, while dairy will inhibit it, so drinking the tea with milk is not recommended. Shall we have a cup of green tea now?