For centuries, green tea has been regarded as one of the healthiest drinks in the world. And today, a vast array of health claims are made about green tea, but how much of it stacks up? Well, there are three areas that are backed by scientific research: cancer prevention, cardiovascular disease and weight loss and diabetes.
1 / Cancer Prevention
Extracts of green tea have been shown to inhibit tumors forming and developing at several areas of the body, including the lungs, skin, esophagus, stomach, liver, small intestine, colon, pancreas, bladder, prostate and mammary glands. Tea components have also been shown to inhibit DNA damage in a number of cell studies. In studies where no significant benefit was found, researchers later discovered this was due to the low amount of tea being consumed by subjects, and when later repeated, with subjects enjoying a higher intake, improved benefits were found. So, moral of the story: drink up! The amount of tea needed for cancer-preventive effects has varied widely in studies – from two to 10 cups per day. So we suggest you land somewhere in the middle.
2 / Cardiovascular Disease
The type of tea that has been shown to provide the most cardiovascular health benefits is by far green tea, thanks to some tiny nutritional powerhouses called catechins (which are chemical compounds). Your heart loves catechins just as much as the rest of your body does too. Why? Because research links catechin intake (i.e., sipping green tea) to reduced blood pressure, inflammation, blood clotting and “bad” cholesterol. Overall this means less likelihood of stroke and/or heart attack.
When it comes to heart health benefits, it would appear the more tea you drink the better! Consuming large quantities of green tea – up to 10 cups per day – has been found to decrease serum concentrations of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides (the bad stuff) and increase HDL (the good stuff) cholesterol concentrations. A recent meta-analysis (which is a study that combines the results of several studies … considered the gold standard in research) of green tea consumption found that people who consumed three or more cups of green tea per day had a 21% lower risk of ischemic stroke than those consuming less than one cup per day. That’s pretty big news!
3 / Weight Loss and Diabetes
Another recent meta-analysis of coffee and tea consumption found that people who drank more than three-to-four cups of green tea per day had an 18% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Several studies also associate drinking green tea regularly with reductions in body weight, body mass index, body fat ratio, body fat mass, and waist and hip circumference… but be weary, as weight is influenced by so many factors (genetics, physical activity levels just to name a few) that it’s impossible to say just how much of this is attributable to tea. Still, promising results for our drink of choice.
A longer list of potential benefits to drinking tea that need more research include a reduction in oral bacteria (less trips to the dentist … woohoo!), a possible protective effect against Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, protection against the damage of the UV rays from the sun, increased bone density, and even improvements in the intestinal microflora.
So you can literally drink to your health with green tea.
For further reading, check out what makes green tea so healthy here.