Reality check: is Green Tea actually that good for you?
One of the first things that come to mind when you think of weight loss remedies is green tea. With promises of all kinds of health benefits that are propagated by green tea enthusiasts across the globe, it is no wonder that green tea has stood the test of time as a go-to health drink since the earliest days of Chinese medicine. More recently the green tea baton has been passed on to millennials looking to hop on the fitness bandwagon, for whom this magical brew has now become a symbolic declaration of healthy living.
Green tea contains a variety of vitamins including vitamin B, folic acid, manganese and potassium, not to mention the all-important antioxidant. As far as shrubs go, you can see why the Camelia Sinensis, or tea plant, has built itself a healthy reputation. But before you run off to brew your next cup, it’s time for a reality check: Green tea, black tea and white tea are made from exactly the same plant, with variations only in their processing methods. But is that enough to make green tea noticeably better for you than other brews from the same plant? While we’re digging around green tea it is also worth testing how well the tea’s health claims stand to up formal, documented research.
FAT BURNING AND WEIGHT LOSS
Weight loss is one of the biggest reasons why green tea has surged in popularity in recent years. According to the Ormax Study on Health and Ayurveda, "consumers today are looking at a healthy lifestyle - and often the first micro change is to include green tea into their daily routine. Especially women feel green tea helps them with their weight loss along with their walking or yoga."
It is said that green tea is rich in antioxidants, and the catechin and caffeine present in green tea help the body in burning more calories. It is also said that green tea boosts metabolism, which in turn, helps the body to lose weight. Green tea can also increase Thermogenesis (production of heat in the body) which may accelerate weight loss.
In a review of 18 studies involving 1,945 people, it was found that green tea has very little effect on the fat burning process. Despite this, there are plenty of people who claim to have lost weight by drinking green tea. This could be linked to what the green tea is replacing, by removing regular tea with a few spoons of sugar, or a hot chocolate for example.
DETOXING THE BODY
Green tea is touted as the most beneficial product available for detoxing the body. On closer inspection, green tea does in fact detox the body, but not in the way it claims to. Green tea does not detoxify the body on its own. Instead, the active ingredients present in the green tea support the body’s natural detoxifying process. The body detoxifies and removes all the toxins quite efficiently by itself. The natural polyphenols present in the green tea supports the body’s normal detoxifying process.
Green tea also claims to have cancer-fighting properties, and surprisingly research supports this too, although again not in the way you might expect. In 2015, a study based on research concluded that green tea may enhance the drugs used to cure cancer. When the compounds present in green tea were combined with Herceptin – a drug that is used in the treatment of breast and stomach cancer, promising results were found. However, as human trials are yet to happen, the initial results of the study should not be considered as proof that drinking green tea while taking Herceptin makes it more effective. [Also a gentle reminder not to confuse The Cocofly Blog with medical advice, so please speak to a doctor if that is what you are looking for!]
In a review from 2013, it was found that daily consumption of green tea can help in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, thanks to the catechins present in it. Another survey of data from 2014 found evidence of only a slight reduction in blood pressure. But whether this reduction can be significant in terms of preventing heart diseases is debatable.
MORE TEA, MORE BENEFITS
It is a common misbelief that drinking more green tea will result in more weight loss. The truth is, drinking excessive green tea can cause adverse health effects. People who are known to consume more than 6 cups a day may suffer from hypertension, indigestion, and tremor. Green tea contains caffeine and polyphenols, overconsumption of which may have undesirable health effects.
Not many people know that all types of tea are made from the same plant, known as Camellia Sinensis or Tea plant. So ideally, all types of tea should provide the same health benefits. However, there is a difference. After the leaves are picked, they are processed in different ways to generate different types of tea. Black tea is made by oxidation – a method in which the enzymes present in the tea leaves make the polyphenols within the tea less bioactive. Green tea is made by steaming the tea leaves, thereby leaving the polyphenols intact. Hence, green tea is considered to have more health benefits associated with polyphenol activity than other types of tea.
Green tea is also famed to have an abundance of natural antioxidants. These antioxidants are said to combat free radicals present in the body and strengthen the body's defence mechanism. But researchers are starting to say that eating antioxidant-rich food doesn’t actually make a difference because direct antioxidants are not easily absorbed by the body. According to a report, it has never been proven that the antioxidants we consume will have a beneficial effect on our health. So before you get impressed by grocery items that are rich in antioxidants, remember that it may not result in an increase in your body’s antioxidant count.
So how does this all stack up and what should you be doing about your green tea consumption? On the surface, the reality is that few green tea benefits stand up to the rigour of scientific research. However, for centuries the Chinese have been using it to treat a variety of health conditions, and it may be short-sighted to write off this potentially excellent beverage just yet. While you probably shouldn’t treat green tea as a one-stop cure-all medicine, a couple of cups a day appears to fit nicely into a well rounded, healthy and active lifestyle.
Featured Image: goodhousekeeping.com