Improve Your Health: Drink Green Tea

Coffee gets credit for being a beverage loaded with anti-oxidants that can help prevent Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, fatty liver disease and even some cancers.

Green tea, also considered one of the world’s healthiest drinks, tends to take a back seat to coffee when it comes to media attention, and that’s probably not fair.

Flickr photo by Leon Brocard

Health Benefits of Green Tea

There are many known health benefits of green tea and most of them are tied to the fact that it is loaded with epigallocatechin-3 gallates (EGCG) and bioactive polyphenol that have been shown to be the most effective compounds in eliminating free radicals.

An article in Medical News Today says that green tea is approximately 20% to 45% polyphenols by weight, of which 60% to 80% are catechins such as EGCG. What that means for you, is that when you consume green tea an army is released into your system that will destroy those pesky free radicals that cause cell damage, oxidative stress and eventually chronic disease.

Free radicals are generated from a variety of sources found in our daily lives including injury, cigarette smoke, environmental pollutants, radiation, certain drugs, pesticides, industrial solvents, and the ozone. Totally avoiding them is impossible so consuming green tea is one way to combat the damage they can do to cells.

Not only is green tea full of strong antioxidants, it is also believed to be effective in increasing metabolism and helps the body burn fat. Green tea also acts as a natural diuretic that removes excess fluid from the body and, a study done in at the Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine shows that people who drink green tea age better than those who don’t.

Not All Teas Are Equal

Since there are so many options available when you go to buy green tea it’s important to pick one that gives you the highest levels of EGCG. For starters, bottled teas don’t measure up to brewed teas. Not only do they contain fewer antioxidants, many bottled teas have as much added sugar as soda.

Even bagged teas have different amounts of the healthy properties that can make some better than others. For bulk tea, Teavanak at 85 mg. has the most EGCG per teaspoon. If bagged tea is your choice, Lipton Green Tea bags, which contain about 71mg EGCG per serving, provides the most EGCG at the lowest cost (27 cents to obtain 200mg.

Flickr photo by Chris Costas

Green Tea Supplements Are Another Option

If you’re really serious about amping up your consumption of EGCG, green tea capsules might be the way to go. Through a study done at UCLA, researchers determined that green tea supplements produced the highest levels of antioxidants in the blood compared with liquid black or green tea.

If you do choose the supplement over the beverage, be careful not to get too much of a good thing. The average person should not consume more than 4.54 mg per pound of body weight. For all body weights, it is recommended to have no more than 750 mg in one day.

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Rethink Your Drink. Hot Or Cold, Tea Is The Healthiest Beverage Choice

Black And Green Teas Are Loaded With Healthy Flavonoids

When it comes to healthy drinking, it’s hard to match the benefits of black and grean teas. John Weisberger, PhD, senior researcher at the Institute for Cancer Prevention in Valhalla, N.Y. has published more than 500 papers; many of them on the benefits of tea.  He was the first American researcher to show that tea modifies the metabolism to detoxify harmful chemicals.  Weisberger also says that tea has eight to 10 times the antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables.

Black and green bulk teas have more antioxidants than fruits and vegetables. flickr photo by aroid

Black and green tea contain the flavonoids thearubigins, epicatechins and catechins. Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant that is also found in dark chocolate.  Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University says the evidence showing the health benefits of tea is pretty consistent.  The abundance of antioxidants found in tea help protect cells from the damage of free radicals that can lead to blood clot formation, atherosclerosis and cancer.

Both Weisberger and Blumberg believe that people can improve their risk of heart disease and strokes by drinking tea throughout the day. Weisberger drinks 10 cups a day.

A recent 12-week study  that monitored 87 individuals between the age of 25 and 60 divided the individuals into two groups.  One group drank three cups of black tea per day; the other consumed the same amount of hot water.  At the end of the 12 weeks, evidence showed that the participants that drank the tea had a 17% decrease in the ratio of LDL to HDH cholesterol with a decrease in HDL.  The tea drinkers also had lower fasting blood sugar and triglyceride levels.

The researchers conclude that “High levels of polyphenolics, including thearubigins and theaflavins in tea can protect cells and tissues from oxidative damage by scavenging oxygen-free radicals.”

Not All Teas Are Equal

Tea is healthiest when it is purchased in bulk in the form of buds or leaves.  Next is tea bags.  Although they don’t retain as many antioxidants as bulk tea, the convenience of the bags can still make it a good choice.  By the time we get to bottled teas or tea made from powder mixes most of the health benefits are lost in processing.  Plus sugar, preservatives and coloring has been added which diminishes the good-for-you factor even more.

Automatic ice tea makers are perfect for black and green bulk teas or bags

Ice Tea Is Healthy Too – When the sun is hot, cold tea is most refreshing. I make delicious ice tea using buds or bags in my Mr. Coffee Ice Tea Maker.  It’s quick and easy to make and if guests stop by on the spur of the moment I can make a fresh batch in 10 minutes.

Here’s my finished product:  Delicious, zero-calorie, super-healthy iced black tea!

Black tea made in my automatic ice tea maker

Save yourself  300 calories.  Skip the McDonald’s sweet tea or sugary bottled blends on the shelf at the Seven-Eleven and make your own brew.

 What’s Your Favorite Tea?