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Green tea health benefits have been known for thousands of years, at least since 1211 when the Japanese Zen priest, Yeisai, published the book Tea and Health Promotion, in which he described green tea’s medicinal eﬀects. Discovered in China about 5,000 years ago, green tea was then brought to Japan from China by Buddhist priests. Today, scientiﬁc evidence indicates that green tea is indeed beneﬁcial to health. In fact, there has been an explosion of green tea research around the world, and scientists are continuing to discover new health benefits of green tea on a regular basis.
What Is Green Tea and Why Is It Special?
Green tea, black tea, and oolong tea all come from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, but green tea provides the most significant health benefits.
The difference between the three teas is in how they are processed during manufacturing. To make green tea, freshly harvested leaves are immediately steamed to stabilize the tea, preventing fermentation and the breakdown of the color pigments. The fresh steamed leaves then maintain their green color as they are rolled and dried.
Not only do these processes keep the tea leaves green, they preserve green tea’s polyphenols (natural chemicals with health-promoting properties) and especially its catechins. Green tea catechins are transformed into different phytochemicals (with different biological activities) when tea leaves are fermented to oolong and then to black tea.
Green Tea Health Benefits
The health promoting effects of green tea are mainly attributed to its catechins. Catechins are a subcategory of flavonoids, which are a subcategory of polyphenols.
There are four catechins in green tea—epicatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin-3-gallate, and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Of these four, EGCG is especially abundant, potent, and beneficial to health. EGCG has been found to influence how different genes get expressed and to have potent anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antioxidant effects.
In particular, EGCG and the other green tea catechins are associated with the prevention and/or treatment of many health conditions, including:
- Many types of cancer
- Cardiovascular disease (by improving blood pressure, cholesterol, and arterial function)
- Metabolic syndrome
- Bacterial and viral infections
- Liver diseases and detoxification
- age-related cognitive decline and other neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
- Skin aging
- Genital warts due to human papilloma virus infections
- Uterine fibroids
How to Optimize the Green Tea Health Benefits for Yourself
To obtain the health benefits of green tea, you can drink at least three cups of per day or take a supplement that contains green tea extract.
Some supplements contain green tea powder, which is not an extract and is unlikely to have much effect unless you take very large doses. Instead, look for an extract that concentrates the catechins. Pure EGCG is available in addition to various green tea extracts that contain a standardized amount of EGCG along with other green tea catechins. However, some researchers believe it is best to take a green tea extract rather than pure EGCG since pure EGCG is known to be an unstable compound and because the other components found in the green tea likely add to its therapeutic effect.
At this time, it is unknown as to whether there is a specific type, brand, or dose of green tea extract that’s best But based on available evidence, a green tea extract standardized to between 80 to 90 percent total catechins or to between 40 to 50 percent EGCG is recommended at a total daily dose of 400 to 800mg.
Learn more about the amazing green tea health benefits here:
- Green Tea for Weight Loss
- Green Tea May Lower LDL Cholesterol
- Matcha Tea Benefits: 7 Tips for How to Use Matcha Powder for Better Health
- 8 Energy Boosting Foods to Keep You Alert
Tell Us Whether or Not You Like Green Tea
With all these amazing health benefits of green tea, you would think the whole world would drink nothing else. But that is not the case. Many people just can’t seem to work it into their schedules. And certainly the sugar loaded variety of green tea found in bottled teas can do as much harm as good with all that extra sugar. So what do you do? Have you found a way to enjoy green tea, or is there a variety or brand that you especially enjoy? Please share your experience with other readers so we can encourage each other to better health!
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Originally published in 2013, this post is regularly updated.