Green tea is one of the healthiest drinks to consume. It contains high levels of antioxidants and micronutrients that provide many health benefits for the body.
Improved brain function, fat burning, and a reduced cancer risk are just a few of its many amazing benefits.
I present 10 proven health benefits of green tea below.
1. Green Tea Has High Levels of Bioactive Compounds That Can Influence Your Health
You will be forgiven for thinking that green tea is merely just a green-colored tea.
Green tea also contains many bioactive compounds and important nutrients.
Unlike nutrients, bioactive compounds are not essential to the sustainability of the body. Your body can perform all its functions without bioactive compounds. However, these compounds can influence your health.
It has high levels of polyphenols such as flavonoids and catechins. These compounds are potent antioxidants (a).
Antioxidants play a vital role in controlling the production of free radicals in your body. Free radicals can damage cells and molecules in your body.
Perhaps, the biggest contributor to green tea’s medicinal properties is the catechin, EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate). Studies show that this chemical compound can be used in the treatment of different illnesses.
Green tea also contains trace amounts of other important health minerals.
When shopping for green tea, it is important to buy high-quality brands. Some cheaper, low-quality brands of green tea may contain higher than normal amounts of fluoride (b).
Having said that, even cheaper, low-quality brands still provide health benefits that dwarf the risks.
Conclusion: Green tea contains high levels of bioactive compounds that provide many health benefits.
2. Green Tea Can Help Your Body Burn Fat
Green tea is probably the most common ingredient listed on fat burning supplements.
There was a study involving 10 men. The study showed that green tea raised their net energy output by 4% (e).
In a different study, the rate of fat oxidation rose by 17%. Green tea may, therefore, be deliberately raising the rate of fat burning (f).
However, results are mixed. In some other studies, green tea had no effect on the rate of metabolism. This shows that the effects can vary from one individual to another (g).
Conclusion: Results are mixed but there are studies that indicate that green tea can provide a boost to the rate of metabolism. It can also provide a short-term boost to the rate of fat burning in the body.
3. Green tea contains chemical compounds that can improve functions of the brain
When you drink green tea, it does not only keep you wide awake but also improves brain function.
Caffeine is the largest active ingredient in green tea. It is a stimulant of the nervous system.
Green tea does not have as much caffeine as coffee. However, it contains enough of it to give you the same benefits without the negative effects often attributed to the consumption of too much coffee.
In the brain, caffeine works by reversibly blocking the neurotransmitter, adenosine. Adenosine induces the feeling of drowsiness. Basically, caffeine improves alertness, improves your reaction time, promotes wakefulness, improves concentration and motor coordination (l, m, o).
Green tea also contains the L-theanine amino acids. This is known to provide a relaxing effect on humans (p).
A systematic review indicated that combining caffeine and L-theanine can result in improved alertness, increased attentiveness and improve the ability to unconsciously shift attention between one task and another (t, u).
The caffeine and L-theanine content of green tea combine to provide you with a much “milder” brain stimulation than coffee.
Most people who consume it regularly say they feel the better energy and are much more productive than when they drink coffee.
Conclusion: Green tea contains caffeine and L-theanine. These two compounds can have a positive effect on the brain and improve several brain functions.
4. Green tea contains antioxidants that may reduce the risk of different cancer types
There is no study that conclusively says that green tea influences the prevention or treatment of cancer.
However, there is a review study that shows that there is suggestive evidence that it may have some effect (v).
Most of us know that cancer is a result of cell mutations in our body. One of the contributing factors of cancer is the oxidative damage of cells. Antioxidants in green tea can help fight this oxidation effect (w).
Because of its high antioxidants content, one can reasonably expect that green tea can play a role in preventing cancer. And there is suggestive evidence that it does just this:
- Prostate Cancer – In a study involving men, it emerged that subjects lowered their risk of developing prostate cancer by as much as 48% by consuming green tea regularly (x).
- Breast Cancer – This is the most common form of cancer in women. In a meta-analysis, women who consumed more green tea lowered their breast cancer risk by as much as 22% compared to those that do not drink it (y).
- Colorectal Cancer – There was a study involving almost 70,000 Chinese women. In concluded that those who drank green tea lowered their colorectal cancer risk by as much as 57%, compared to those that do not drink it (z).
To get the full antioxidant benefits, you should avoid adding milk to your tea (d1).
Conclusion: Although no conclusive studies exist, there have been studies that show suggestive evidence that green tea might influence the fight against cancer.
5. Green tea might help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes constitutes about 90% of all diabetes cases worldwide. It affects almost 400 million people worldwide (as of 2015) (e1).
It is brought on by having excess weight and living an inactive lifestyle.
It is mainly manifested in the body’s inability to produce insulin and elevated blood sugar levels.
There are studies that indicate that consuming green tea regularly can help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity (f1).
There was a study involving people from Japan. It concluded that those who consumed more green tea saw a reduction in their type 2 diabetes risk by 42% (g1).
A systematic review showed that people who drink green tea regularly had an 18% lower risk of developing diabetes (h1).
Conclusion: There is no study that conclusively ties green tea consumption to a lower risk of getting diabetes. However, there are studies that present suggestive evidence that consuming green tea regularly, can lower blood sugar levels and may also reduce the risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
6. Green tea has antibacterial properties and may improve dental health and reduce the risk of infection
Green tea contains catechins, which provides other effects apart from being an antioxidant.
There are a few studies that indicate that these catechins can kill bacteria. They can, also, hinder the growth of viruses. It, therefore, has the potential to reduce the risk of infections (i1, j1, k1, l1).
Nobody likes a person with bad dental health. Tooth decay and bad mouth odor are mainly caused by the bacteria, Streptococcus mutans.
There are studies that indicate that green tea can hinder the growth of this bacteria. Consuming green tea regularly can be linked to better dental health and a reduced risk of tooth decay (m1, n1, o1, p1).
Conclusion: Green tea contains catechins, which can act as an antibacterial and an antivirus. It can, therefore improve dental health and reduce the risk of some infections.
7. Green tea consumption may lower the risk of death from cardiovascular diseases
Cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, claim more lives than any other illness worldwide (s1).
There are a few studies that show that consuming green tea daily can reduce the risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease.
A meta-analysis of several observational studies on the subject concluded that you can lower the risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease by as much as 5% if you consume a cup of green tea daily (t1).
Green tea may improve some of the factors associated with cardiovascular diseases, such as LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides (u1).
There are a few other studies that indicate that green tea can significantly raise the blood’s antioxidant ability. This helps prevent LDL cholesterols from being oxidized. The oxidation of LDL cholesterol is a contributing factor for heart disease (v1, w1, x1).
Because of the positive benefits that green tea has on the risk factors, it comes as no surprise that those who drink green tea regularly see their risk of contracting cardiovascular diseases go down by as much as 31% (1, 2, 3).
Conclusion: Meta-analysis has shown that you can lower your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases by consuming green tea daily.
8. Green Tea May Influence the Risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease
I’ve already discussed how green tea can improve short-term brain functions. Research suggests that it can, also, give protection to your brain when you get older.
Some people of old age suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. It is one of the most common diseases in this age group and is known to be a major factor in developing dementia.
Another common neurodegenerative illness in people of old age is Parkinson’s disease. This disease is caused by low dopamine levels due to nerve cell damages in the brain.
There have been a few studies, based on animals and test tube tissues, that indicate that the catechins in green tea may provide some protection for dopamine producing neurons. It could, therefore, lower the risks of getting Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease (y1, z1, a2).
Conclusion: One of the benefits of green tea may be that it could lower the risks of developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
9. Green tea may aid in weight loss and reduce the risks of obesity
There is no conclusive evidence out there that green tea causes fat or weight loss in people. However, there is a long history of green tea being marketed as a weight loss supplement.
The truth is green tea does help obese people lose weight and maintain their weight. However, studies have shown that this weight loss is clinically insignificant (b2).
In a randomized controlled study involving some 200+ participants, one group was given green tea for 3 months and the other group was not. There was significant weight loss, lowering of body fat, loss of stomach fat and a reduction in the waistline, in the group that drank green tea (e2).
Conclusion: Studies on the weight loss benefits of green tea has been inconclusive, with some showing promising results and others showing insignificant or no effects at all. Because there is no conclusive evidence that green tea makes you lose weight, you should take it with a grain of salt. But then again, there is no harm in drinking green tea.
10. Green tea might prolong your life
They say there are two things certain in life… death and taxes. I can’t say too much about the latter but the former is rock solid truth. We will all die someday. But if we could choose a longer, healthy and happy life, there’s a safe bet most of us will opt for this.
Green tea is known to reduce the risk of contracting cardiovascular diseases. There is also suggestive evidence that it might have an influence on the risk of cancer.
It is, therefore, not alarming for one to say that green tea can help you live longer.
In one study, involving about 40,000+ adults from Japan and spanning 11 years, people who consumed about 5 cups of green tea every day were at a much lower risk of death than those who did not (f2). The study found the following
- The risk of dying from all causes went down about 23% for women and about 12% for men.
- The risk of dying from cardiovascular disease went down about 31% for women and about 22% for men.
- The risk of dying from stroke went down about 42% for women and about 35% for men
There was a different study, which lasted 6 years and involved about 14,000 Japanese participants aged between 65 and 84 years. The study found subjects lowered their risk of dying by as much as 76% (during the test period) by drinking more green tea regularly (g2).
Green tea provides many health benefits. It can make you feel better, reduce the risk of many diseases and improve brain functions. There is also evidence that it could help you lose some weight. And there are no known harmful side effects so there’s no harm in drinking green tea.