The Wonders of Green Tea
After water, tea is the world’s most popular drink, but what of the green tea variety? It is continually being studied by those who wonder if it is an elixir to prevent chronic diseases. For at least 20 years, Lipton Tea has has an interest in enriching foods with the active substances in tea. Dr. Harold N. Graham, retired director of research for the Thomas J. Lipton Company, told the New York Times in 1991, "Once we determine which components of tea are most useful pharmaceutically, it should be possible to produce teas that are highly beneficial.”
Why GREEN Tea?
Green tea, oolong tea and black tea all come from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis; the difference is in the processing. Green tea is unfermented, oolong is semi-fermented and black tea is a fermented product.
The good stuff in green tea is the antioxidants, a group of polyphenols called ‘catechins’. Catechins may prevent cellular damage that leads to cancer and protect against inflammation. Green tea has the most catechins because of how it’s processed: the leaves are briefly heated before they are dried, which denuders the enzymes that breakdown the catechins, and so the potent antioxidants remain.
“The cathechin in green tea, epigallocathechin gallate (EGCG), is more than 100 times as effective at neutralizing free radicals as vitamin C, a well known antioxidant,” said Dr. Lester Mitscher, professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Kansas and author of The Green Tea Book. Studies reported in a consumer publication from Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston suggest that a regular intake of three cups a day may be enough to derive the benefits.
Green Tea for Weight Loss
Green tea may have a role in boosting metabolism and burning fat, which may, theoretically, help to control weight. Studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that green tea was associated with depositing less fat, burning more fat burning and better insulin sensitivity. The active substance in green tea produced metabolic rises both during exercise and while at rest. The authors concluded that 3 or 4 cups of green tea could increase metabolic rate by 4% over 24-hours, and that translates into burning 50 to 100 extra calories a day. Every little bit helps,
Green Leaf Tea vs. GTE
In research studies, Green Tea Extract (GTE) is often used instead of green tea leaves. GTE is created when strong infusions of concentrated extract are dehydrated and formed into a tablet, capsule, or dry mix. A dose of 880 to 1500 milligrams of GTE a day is often used in studies, but according to Beth Israel Deaconess, liver inflammation has been reported with large doses of GTE. Also beware that the GTE sold to the public might not be safe. In a 2006 analysis performed by Consumer Labs, some of the tested products contained lead.
There is also some concern that large amounts of green tea might be unsafe for pregnant women, and all tea drinkers should note that the tannins in tea reduce iron absorption and so those who are susceptible to iron deficiency anemia should not drink tea with meals.
Although grocers advertise green tea as if it were one type, there are actually a variety of types that boast different flavors. Far East specialty stores have the widest variety of green teas. Opt for the loose leaf teas as opposed to the pre-made tea bags as those may be of poorer quality.
Want some variety in your green tea drinking? Try this recipe for a Green Tea Smoothie provided by the New York Times.
Do you drink green tea or use GTE?