Green tea comes from the same plant as black tea and oolong tea. It’s just processed differently; the leaves are steamed right after harvest. In addition to drinking green tea, you can also take green tea extract in pill form. Green tea contains a large number of polyphenols such as flavonols and flavonoids, which have been shown to have many benefits to human health. In research, the health benefits of green tea and green tea extract have been shown in animal models, though scientists recognize the limitations of their studies and urge more investigation into the effects of green tea on health. Find out some of the reasons you might want to add green tea to your day.
1. Drinking green tea may reduce the risk of early death for people with diabetes.
A recent study of nearly 5,000 Japanese people with type 2 diabetes showed that those who drank green tea had a reduced risk of early death, and the more tea they drank, the greater the benefit. Participants who drank four or more cups of green tea per day lowered their risk of dying early by 40%, and even those who drank less still saw some reduced risk. The study also showed that participants who drank four or more cups of green tea along with two or more cups of coffee saw a 63% lower risk of early death.
2. Green tea may provide protection against some types of cancer.
In animal studies, green tea extract has been shown to protect against carcinogens that could lead to intestinal, lung, liver, prostate, and breast cancer. In human studies, evidence of the anticancer effects of green tea has been inconsistent, though in one study, postmenopausal women who drank two or more cups of green tea per day had a lower incidence of digestive and urinary tract cancers than those who drank less green tea. Green tea benefits for women also may extend to lower risk of gynecological cancers. Some studies have found an association between drinking green tea and a reduced risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers. For now, green tea isn’t recommended as a treatment for cancer because more study is needed; however, green tea health benefits on cancer haven’t been ruled out.
3. The catechins in green tea may help protect against cardiovascular disease.
The flavanols and flavandiols found in green tea are commonly called catechins, which have numerous health benefits, including protection against degenerative diseases such as heart disease. In animal studies, catechins have been shown to provide a boost in antioxidant activity as well as modify lipid metabolism, which means catechins interfere with the way the body absorbs lipids, including cholesterol. Researchers note, however, that a large amount of green tea is needed to provide these effects in animal models.
4. The antioxidants in green tea help repair cell damage due to oxidative stress.
The DNA in your body’s cells can be damaged by free radicals, which cause oxidative stress. However, it’s well known that antioxidants can help repair this damage, and the polyphenols in green tea are antioxidants that help bolster your body’s ability to neutralize free radicals and repair cell damage.
5. Green tea benefits for skin include anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties.
The polyphenols and antioxidants in green tea also have other benefits, including as part of the fight against aging and skin damage. Inflammation, photodamage and oxidative stress all contribute to factors that make skin appear older. But green tea polyphenols and antioxidants have been shown to prevent carcinogenic activity of ultraviolet light radiation as well as photoaging, which refers to those wrinkles and spots that appear as we age. In addition to fighting the appearance of aging, green tea benefits for skin also include anti-inflammatory compounds that may help soothe eczema, and the FDA has approved an ointment that contains green tea extract as a treatment for genital warts.
6. Green tea may help boost your mood and improve mental function.
Drinking a beverage you enjoy is often an effective pick-me-up, and drinking green tea has some scientific reasoning behind that mood improvement. Not only can green tea influence your mood, it may also have benefits for mental function, including improved memory, increased alertness, and reduced anxiety. Scientists think the caffeine in green tea plays a role in these positive effects, but note that it’s not likely a single compound.
7. Green tea is not the miracle weight-loss answer you’re looking for.
While green tea is a common ingredient in weight-loss products, it’s not a miracle cure. In several studies, scientists have concluded that green tea benefits for weight loss are only slight. However, green tea does contain caffeine, which can boost your energy level and may prompt you to get moving. Also, go right ahead and exchange your high-calorie, sugary soda for a cup (or two or three) of green tea. Removing excess sugar from your diet, along with increasing your physical activity and eating heart-healthy foods, can help you shed those extra pounds.
8. Use care if you choose to take green tea extract.
As with most foods, the health benefits of green tea are best when consumed in the original form—in this case, as a drink. But green tea extract can be taken in pill form for people who want to reap the benefits but aren’t a fan of the taste of the tea. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before adding supplements to your diet to discuss possible interactions with other health conditions or medications you may have. While it’s uncommon, some people with liver problems have reported negative side effects and worsening symptoms after taking green tea extract. Keep in mind, too, that green tea extract is often found in weight-loss products, so be sure to read ingredients carefully.