What Is Green Tea? Nutrition, Health Benefits, Side Effects 

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What Is Green Tea? Nutrition, Health Benefits, Side Effects 

Green tea has many benefits from lowering blood sugar to preventing cancer, and helping with weight loss. But there’s such a thing as too much…

Defining Green Tea and Understanding Its History

Green tea is made by lightly steaming leaves from a plant called Camellia sinensis, which is the same plant used to make black and oolong teas. Tea-drinking is a ritual people have been practicing for centuries, dating back to 2737 B.C. in Asia. Even back then, people recognized the healing properties of tea.

These days, green tea continues to be sipped in large quantities, but it’s also become an all-star ingredient on its own, and can be found in supplement form or listed as an active ingredient on various products.

What’s in Green Tea? A Look at Its Nutrition Facts

Brewed green tea is primarily water based, which means it’s free of the usual macronutrients found in other foods and drinks. It doesn’t contain any fat, carbohydrates, or protein, and there aren’t any calories in unsweetened tea. It gets its healthy reputation from compounds called catechins, specifically epicatechin, epicatechin-3-gallate, epigallocatechin, and EGCG. These catechins are believed to be responsible for giving green tea its potential cancer-fighting, antioxidant, probiotic, and metabolism-boosting benefits.

Green tea also contains trace amounts of potassium and, unless you opt for a caffeine-free variety, moderate levels of caffeine. One cup of green tea has between 25 and 29 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, which puts it slightly behind black tea’s 25 to 48 mg.

Black tea goes through a different fermentation process than green tea and comes with its own set of health benefits, including a reduced risk of having various types of cancer and cardiovascular disease. (3) Black tea also has anti-inflammatory properties, but not quite as much as green tea.

What Are the Possible Health Benefits of Drinking Green Tea?

Research tells us green tea’s benefits may include:

  • Increased Mental Alertness But note the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says this could be simply because of the caffeine content.
  • Protection Against Heart Disease Not many long-term studies have been done, but the ones that have been completed suggest green tea may help lower high blood pressure (hypertension) and keep cholesterol in check, thereby reducing the risk of developing heart disease. One Japanese study found people who consumed five or more cups of green tea each day had a 26 percent lower risk of dying of cardiovascular disease during an 11-year period compared with people who drank only one cup per day.
  • Lower cholesterol Specifically, green tea has been shown to lower levels of the bad kind of cholesterol (LDL), while raising the good kind (HDL).
  • Cancer prevention Some researchers suspect the catechins have the ability to block cancer-causing free radicals. Research has been inconsistent, though, and according to the National Cancer Institute, drinking green tea isn’t a proven way to protect against cancer.
  • Reduced risk of diabetes One study found people who drank at least six cups of green tea per day were 33 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared with those who drank only one cup per week.

The Link Between Green Tea and Weight Loss: What the Science Says

You’ve probably heard that sipping green tea can turn your body into a fat-burning machine. The thinking is the caffeine and the catechins found in the tea work together to send the metabolism into overdrive, which helps the body burn calories and, as a result, drop unwanted pounds.

It sounds like it’s too good to be true — and it is. These claims come from studies that presented green tea as the secret to weight loss, but most of them were small, short-term, and oftentimes involved green tea extracts rather than cups of brewed tea. (5) Unfortunately, expecting green tea to produce a significant change in your waistline isn’t realistic.

Some studies have attempted to clear up the confusion. One from Spanish researchers incorporated results from five studies and found green tea didn’t lead to any significant changes in weight among overweight or obese study participants. There was a decrease in fat mass percentage, but not enough for the researchers to draw any conclusions.

Read on: What Is Green Tea? Nutrition, Health Benefits, Side Effects | Everyday Health

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