Food & Drink

What are the health benefits of green tea?

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Green tea may prevent many health problems, including cancer, heart disease and obesity.
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Green tea drinkers enjoy taste, comfort and health benefits.

Anyone who enjoys sipping a cup of this warm, tasty drink called green tea, may notice that green tea seems to have taken the beverage world by storm over the last decade. What are the health benefits of green tea? It's delicious and comforting, but are there really health benefits? Advocates of herbal supplements and natural foods believe that the Asian super drink prevents and aids almost everything from dementia to cancer.

Green tea, from Japan or China, is best known for its high levels of antioxidants, called catechins. Catechins destroy free radicals than can damage DNA and cause blood clots, atherosclerosis and even cancer. Free radicals naturally occur within the body; however, elements in the environment, including cigarette smoke, radiation and air pollution, can also add to its presence in the body. Free radicals are believed to contribute to the aging process, as well as potentially cause health problems, including cancer and heart disease.

Green tea has its own unique catechins as well, including epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which can potentially inhibit and kill cancer cells. The high concentrations of EGCG found in green tea is due to the tea's minimal processing--the leaves are withered and steamed, not fermented like black and oolong teas.

Cancer researchers have also considered the health benefits of fine green tea and conducted many studies throughout the world. Based on certain studies, green tea is thought to prevent and aid in the treatment of a variety of different cancers, including prostate, bladder, ovarian, breast, pancreatic, esophageal and skin. However, it is not certain how much green tea one must consume in order to obtain these effects.

Many also believe that green tea is good for the heart. The tea contains dilators that improve the flexibility of the blood vessels in the heart, preventing them from clogging. Other foods rich in anti-oxidants, such as blueberries and pomegranates, also help the heart in this way. In addition, green tea is thought to prevent artheroscleriosis, especially coronary artery disease, because of its ability to lower cholesterol and trigylceride levels.

Green tea is also beneficial in helping to lower and maintain healthy cholesterol levels. The super drink is thought to lower the total cholesterol level, while raising the HDL, or "good," level. In addition, the polyphenols found in green tea are believed to block the intestinal absorption of cholesterol and aid in the body's excretion of the unhealthy substance.

Those affected by diabetes may also benefit from drinking green tea. While not only helping to regulate the sugar in the body, green tea may prevent the development of Type 1 diabetes and slow its progression once developed. Green tea has also been credited with regulating the amount of glucose in the body.

Adding to the long list of attributes, weight loss may be a benefit of drinking green tea. Green tea, in combination with caffeine, is thought to help relieve the body of fat. The catechins found in the tea help the herb to burn fat.

Those who drink green tea have been found to be less likely to develop liver disorders. The tea seems to protect the liver from damaging toxins, such as alcohol. In addition, the catechin found in the tea may also help viral hepatitis.

While there are not many tasty items in the world that are good for us, green tea is an example of one such rare substance. Great with sugar, honey or on its own, green tea provides those who drink it with health benefits, along with a relaxing, palate-pleasing experience.

References: Health Benefits of Green Tea
University of Maryland Medical Center: Green Tea


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