10 Evidence-Based Benefits of Green Tea
As I spoked about the benefits of matcha in the latest blog, today I brought 10 evidence-based benefits of green tea, which is touted to be one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.
It’s loaded with antioxidants that have many health benefits, which may include: improved brain function, fat loss, protecting against cancer, and lowering the risk of heart disease. In addition, there may be even more potential health benefits, such as:
- Contains healthy bioactive compounds:
Green tea is more than just a hydrating beverage. The green tea plant contains a range of healthy compounds that make it into the final drink. For example, tea is rich in polyphenols, which are natural compounds with health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and helping to fight cancer.
Green tea contains a catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Catechins are natural antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and provide other benefits. These substances can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage. These free radicals play a role in aging and many types of diseases.
- May improve brain function:
The key active ingredient is caffeine, which is a known stimulant. Research has consistently shown that caffeine can improve various aspects of brain function, including mood, vigilance, reaction time, and memory.
However, caffeine isn’t the only brain-boosting compound in green tea. It also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which can cross the blood-brain barrier. L-theanine increases the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, which has anti-anxiety effects. It also increases dopamine and the production of alpha waves in the brain.
Studies show that caffeine and L-theanine can have synergistic effects. This means that the combination of the two can have potent results in improving brain function.
- Increases fat burning:
According to research, green tea can increase fat burning and boost metabolic rate. For example, in one study involving 10 healthy men, taking green tea extract increased the number of calories burned by 4%. In another involving 12 healthy men, green tea extract increased fat oxidation by 17%, compared with those taking a placebo.
Caffeine may also improve physical performance by mobilizing fatty acids from fat tissue and making them available for use as energy. Two separate review studies reported that caffeine might increase physical performance by approximately 11–12%.
- Antioxidants may lower the risk of some cancers:
The uncontrolled growth of cells causes cancer. It’s one of the world’s leading causes of death. Research has shown that oxidative damage can lead to chronic inflammation, leading to chronic diseases, including cancers. Antioxidants can help protect against oxidative damage.
Green tea is an excellent source of powerful antioxidants. In addition, research has linked green tea compounds with a reduced risk of cancer, including the following: breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer. To get the most health benefits, avoid adding milk to your tea. Some studies suggest it can reduce the antioxidant value in some teas.
- May protect the brain from aging:
Not only can green tea improve brain function in the short term, but it may also protect your brain as you age. Alzheimer’s disease is a common neurodegenerative disease and the most common cause of dementia in older adults. Parkinson’s disease is another common neurodegenerative disease and involves the death of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain.
Several studies show that the catechin compounds in green tea can have various protective effects on neurons in test tubes and animal models, possibly lowering the risk of dementia.
- May reduce bad breath:
The catechins in green tea also have benefits for oral health. In addition, test-tube studies suggest that catechins can suppress the growth of bacteria, potentially lowering the risk of infections.
Streptococcus mutans is a common bacterium in the mouth. It causes plaque formation and is a leading contributor to cavities and tooth decay. The catechins in green tea may inhibit the growth of bacteria in the mouth, reducing the risk of bad breath.
- May help prevent type 2 diabetes:
The rates of type 2 diabetes are increasing in recent decades. The condition now affects about 1 in 10 Americans. Type 2 diabetes involves having elevated blood sugar levels, which may be caused by insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin.
Studies show that green tea may improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels. For example, one study in Japanese individuals found that those who drank the most green tea had an approximately 42% lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
According to a review of 7 studies with 286,701 individuals, tea drinkers had an 18% lower risk of diabetes.
- May help prevent cardiovascular disease:
Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, are the leading causes of death worldwide. Studies show that green tea may improve some of the main risk factors for these diseases, including improving total cholesterol and LDL (harmful) cholesterol levels.
Green tea also increases the antioxidant capacity of the blood, which protects the LDL particles from oxidation, which is one part of the pathway toward heart disease. Given the beneficial effects on risk factors, it may not be surprising that people who drink green tea have up to a 31% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
- May help you lose weight:
Given that green tea can boost the metabolic rate in the short term, it makes sense that it could help you lose weight. In addition, several studies show that green tea may help reduce body fat, especially in the abdominal area.
One of these studies was a 12-week randomized controlled study involving 240 people with obesity. In this study, those in the green tea group had significant decreases in body fat percentage, body weight, waist circumference, and belly fat than those in the control group.
- May help you live longer:
Given that some compounds in green tea may help protect against cancer and heart disease, it makes sense that it could help you live longer. In one study, researchers studied 40,530 Japanese adults over 11 years. Those who drank the most green tea — 5 or more cups per day — were significantly less likely to die during the study period:
Death of all causes: 23% lower in women, 12% lower in men;
Death from heart disease: 31% lower in women, 22% lower in men;
Death from stroke: 42% lower in women, 35% lower in men;
Another study involving 14,001 older Japanese individuals found that those who drank the most green tea were 76% less likely to die during the 6-year study period.