I have to be honest, I find it hard to stay off the black tea. Especially in the mornings. But I know a healthy drink when I drink one, and green tea is one of the finest. This history of this ancient beverage is stooped in myth and legend; stories of wise men tasting the leaves, and of flowers falling into cups, as if fate had guided it to the human tongue. What is known is that tea was discovered some five thousand years ago, probably in China, and that many Eastern cultures have been enjoying the health benefits of this tasty hot beverage ever since.
Back then all tea was green tea, and there was no such thing as the black tea many of us keep in our cupboards today. Green tea is simply the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, left to brew in some hot water, and this is how tea was consumed all those years ago, and how it still is consumed in many cultures across the world.
Black tea, for all its delicious morning stimulation, comes from the same plant, but undergoes a fermentation process. Unfortunately this process takes much of the goodness out of the tea leaves, including the antioxidants and poly-phenols, which are believed to be the most beneficial compounds in the tea leaf.
Green tea on the other hand is not subjected to this process, and retains the maximum amount of antioxidants and poly-phenols, making the original tea by far the best for our health. Green tea has been hitting the science labs for some years now, as the West begins to prove what green tea drinkers of the world have known for five thousand years; green tea is very beneficial for our health. The body of research is mounting very fast, and the benefits range from anti-carcinogenic properties, to preventing tooth decay.
One of the most beneficial of the antioxidants contained within green tea is the Epigallocatechin Gallate, or EGCG. EGCG sends cell signals directly to block dangerous activity that could lead to cancer cells and tumors. There is a reasonable amount of evidence to support the link, ranging from cultural observations, to clinical studies which demonstrate the EGCG killing cancer cells without damaging surrounding healthy cells.
Studies have shown the positive impacts of green tea on a number of different types of cancer; breast pancreas, prostate, mouth, ovarian, lung cancer, bladder and more. The amount of green tea required to have the desired effect, and to get enough EGCG has been shown to range from 2-10 cups a day.
The health benefits of green tea does not stop with its anti-carcinogenic properties; drinking plenty of green tea has been shown to reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease, helping to reduce fat, lower bad cholesterol, and improve blood pressure in both males and females. The antioxidant EGCG is again to thank for this, as it works to reduce the problems associated with cardiovascular disease, such as protecting against blood clots, and improving the lining of our blood vessels.
Studies concerning green tea and its impact on diabetes are yet to come to any solid conclusions. It has however been suggested that green tea can improve glucose control and insulin levels, and may reduce the chance of type-2 diabetes. Diabetes also shares a common trigger with cardiovascular problems; obesity, and research has shown that drinking green tea helps to reduce body fat.
Protect Brain Cells
Many chronic brain diseases are caused by oxidative damage and inflammation, both of which green tea is known to reduce. The hypothesis resulted in a mountain of research, which suggests the neuroprotective qualities of green tea, and demonstrates an improvement in cognitive decline caused by the aging process. Green tea is therefore highly likely to combat diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and other degenerative brain illnesses.
As if protecting against highly dangerous diseases is not enough, green tea also has a few more tricks in its tea bag. The antioxidant catechin, helps to fight off bacteria in the mouth, and throat infections, making it effective for oral health care. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities are thought to reduce wrinkles and sun damage to the skin, and it even has a mild relaxing effect, and just a little bit of caffeine for a boost. It tastes really good too!
Eastern cultures drink green tea like water; probably because they feel the benefits it is having on their health. Scientific research is now showing, with quite some body of research, that green tea is highly beneficial, and can improve our chances against many diseases, as well as improving our blood flow, and guarding our brain cells. The only problem is we need to drink a lot of green tea to really see the benefits. Although research varies on the amount they believe is necessary, five cups a day is agreed to be a fair average. Green tea purified oil is available to supplement, but there is nothing like a really good, natural cup of green tea; so try to drink as much as possible to see the health benefits for yourself.