We love our tea. In fact we love it so much tea is the most widely-consumed beverage in the world, second only to water. Hundreds of millions of people around the globe enjoy drinking tea and studies have shown green tea provides some of the most nutritional health benefits of all.
Green tea is made from unfermented leaves and reportedly contains the highest concentration of powerful antioxidants called polyphenols. Antioxidants are substances that fight free radicals, damaging compounds in the body that change cells, damage DNA, and even cause cell death. The belief by scientists is free radicals contribute to the aging process along with the development of health problems including cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants such as polyphenols found in green tea, can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or perhaps prevent some the damage they cause. These same polyphenols may also be the answer to a youthful glow as research has discovered that these compounds in green tea may protect skin against UV radiation as well as improve skin quality such as elasticity and dryness.
Because of the polyphenol chemicals found in green tea, researchers believe green tea’s potent health properties derive from them. Polyphenols contained in teas are classifies as catechins. Green tea contains six primary catechin compounds with one of them being apigallocatechin gallate or EGCG. ECCG is the most studied polyphenol component in green tea and the most active. Some researchers think the polyphenols in green tea, giving it its bitter flavor, seem to have greater antioxidant effects than vitamin C.
Green tea also contains alkaloids including caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline. An amino acid compound also found in green tea, L-theanine, has been studied for its calming effects on the nervous system.
Besides the possibility of preventing major chronic diseases, green tea has been used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine to help relieve or cure other health conditions such as using it in various ways:
· A stimulant
· A diuretic to help rid the body of excess fluid
· An astringent to control bleeding and help heal wounds
· To treat gas
· To help regulate body temperature and blood sugar
· To promote digestion
· To improve mental processes
To help maximize the most health benefits green tea has to offer, there are certain steps one can take to do this:
· The best source of tea polyphenols is brewed green tea.
· Steep the tea bag or tea leaves for at least three minutes as it takes time for the polyphenols to dissolve into the water.
· Squeeze in a few drops of lemon juice which not only supplies some vitamin C but also protects the polyphenols from being oxidized and lost.
· An 8 ounce cup of fresh-brewed green tea contains about 320 milligrams of polyphenols, including roughly 190 mg of EGCG.
· It is recommended to consume about 2 to 3 cups of green tea daily to receive the health benefits it may provide.
If you are unsure if drinking green tea is safe for you or not, always discuss with your healthcare provider as to what they recommend. People with high blood pressure, heart, liver or kidney problems, or with anxiety may need to avoid large amounts of green tea or avoid it altogether.