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This article shares six incredible health benefits of green tea. Whether you love drinking green tea or barely drink it, this article should inspire you to appreciate the beverage more.
Aside from water, tea is my favorite beverage. I like that most teas have a subtle flavor (when not steeped for too long), which makes for a light, neutral beverage throughout the day. Since my mother drank a lot of tea, I used to often sample her tea and eventually made my own cups of tea. Thus, drinking tea became a habit for me pretty early on.
Green tea’s flavor is certainly an acquired taste, where I know plenty of people who don’t like it, including with desserts. People may find it either too bitter or too neutral, depending on the type and preparation. However, like with many types of food and drinks, repeated exposure can translate to greater tolerance and eventual liking.
Not that anyone should be forced to like green tea, but it’s certainly a healthier choice than soft drinks or juices, for anyone who otherwise doesn’t rely on water for drinking during the day. Plus, as you’ll see from this article, so many health benefits of green tea exist. Other kinds of tea can confer benefits as well, but green tea stands out in its research-backed benefits.
Thus, drinking green tea is a healthy habit to not only ensure you get enough water each day, but to also provide you with numerous health benefits.
A Little Background on Tea
Camellia sinensis is the most common tea plant used for the three main types of tea: green tea (unfermented leaves), black tea (fermented leaves), and oolong tea (semifermented leaves).
The three types of tea represent varying levels of fermentation of tea leaves, though “oxidation” may be more accurate to describe the process. Basically, tea leaf fermentation occurs when tea leaves are harvested and exposed to the air, where leaf components react with the air to alter the leaf colors and fragrances.
More fermented teas are darker (i.e. black teas), whereas green tea is either lightly fermented or unfermented. Oolong tea is semifermented. To stop the fermentation process for lighter teas, tea producers will roast or steam the leaves.
Thus, as you can see, green teas are in purer forms than black and oolong teas.
What Makes Green Tea So Healthy
Generally speaking, antioxidants protect against substances called “free radicals” in the body that can damage our DNA and cells. Eventually, this damage can cause diseases and other consequences, like accelerated aging (e.g. wrinkles). Green tea can prevent and combat some of the damage.
Regarding tea’s anti-inflammatory effects, researchers have identified epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) as the primary polyphenol in preventing and combatting inflammation in the body.
Thus, polyphenols work with other substances to make green tea quite a powerhouse of health benefits.
6 Incredible Health Benefits of Green Tea
Green tea has many documented health benefits, but I’m only focusing on the six that I thought were more interesting and had more definitive scientific backing.
If you want a more comprehensive article on the health benefits of green tea, feel free to check out this medical review.
1. Cardiovascular Health Benefits
Research has shown that the polyphenols in green tea can prevent and treat cardiovascular disease by generally improving cardiovascular health.
For one, green tea reduces inflammation in the body, which is a main culprit for cardiovascular disease. Also, green tea improves the functioning of blood vessels and the quality of blood plasma moving through your blood vessels and heart.
Since cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death worldwide, people could definitely benefit from any measure that helps prevent it.
2. Antiviral Properties
Green tea polyphenols can inhibit viral activity. For instance, one study showed that green tea was able to alter the influenza (i.e the flu) virus’s membranes and impede the virus’s ability to replicate.
Researchers have even found that green tea polyphenols can interfere with the SARS-CoV-2 (i.e. COVID-19) virus’s ability to bind to healthy cells to replicate.
Thus, some researchers have promoted the idea of using green tea extract for personal hygiene against viral infections. That is, as a safer, long-term alternative to products like hand sanitizer or chemicals for preventing viral infection.
(Interesting side note on hand sanitizers: the researchers mentioned how hand sanitizer is ineffective in reducing viral activity, because the alcohol evaporates too quickly after being exposed to the air.)
3. Antibacterial Properties
Green tea can prevent and fight bacterial infections. Research has shown that green tea polyphenols can bind to and damage bacterial cell membranes. Green tea can also prevent bacterial cells from producing enough energy to function properly.
Researchers suggest that green tea can be effective against drug-resistant bacterial strains, so encourage more research on the topic.
For instance, one study showed that green tea extract effectively combatted E. coli bacteria that were otherwise resistant to standard antibacterial drugs. Thus, in that particular study, drinking green tea was an effective treatment against urinary tract infections involving E. coli bacteria.
4. Oral Health Benefits
Research has supported green tea’s ability to inhibit the ability of oral bacteria from causing dental decay and cavities. Green tea can also preserve your jaw health by killing off cells that would otherwise normally weaken your jaw bones.
In addition, one study showed green tea’s ability to preserve gum health, where tea drinkers had less gum bleeding and other indicia of poor gum health.
5. Anticancer Properties
Research has revealed green tea’s ability to prevent certain cancers. One theory is that green tea polyphenols prevent or reduce DNA damage that otherwise contributes to cancer cell growth.
Green tea can kill tumor cells and prevent them from multiplying according to research supporting green tea’s ability to stop cancer from spreading in people.
Numerous studies, for instance, have shown green tea’s effectiveness against bladder cancer cells spreading.
Also, one study found that matcha green tea stopped breast cancer stem cells from spreader. Thus, the researchers theorized that matcha green tea could aid cancer treatment by weakening the ability of cancer cells to resist chemotherapy.
6. Brain Health
Studies have shown that green tea may reduce the risk for dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other cognitive impairment.
Researchers weren’t certain how green tea was effective, but discussed theories like green tea’s ability to preserve brain cells, reduce brain inflammation, improve blood vessel health, and prevent the buildup of amyloid-beta (proteins associated with Alzheimer’s) in the brain.
Regardless, of the exact mechanism, green tea can clearly benefit your brain’s functioning.
What About Decaffeinated Green Tea?
If you recall from our section, “What Makes Green Tea So Healthy,” polyphenols are the main components responsible for the many health benefits of green tea. However, you may wonder whether decaffeinated green tea carries the same health benefits.
Research has shown that decaffeinated green tea has significantly lower polyphenol contents than caffeinated green teas. Thus, if you’re looking to reap as many health benefits of green tea as possible, you should stick with regular, caffeinated green tea.
Is Matcha Green Tea Healthier Than Regular Green Tea?
The popularity of matcha green tea has skyrocketed in recent years, where it’s now used in desserts like ice cream and in coffee shop drinks, among other things. However, is matcha green tea healthier than regular green tea?
One study concluded that matcha green tea contained more of the polyphenol, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), than other green teas tested.
However, you have to remember that matcha green tea is finely ground tea leaves. While you normally only steep and discard regular tea leaves, you whisk matcha tea powder into the water and consume the powder with the water. Thus, you consume the entire tea leaf with match green tea, instead of simply using it to infuse like with regular green tea.
Matcha green tea is highly concentrated where tea leaves are ground into a fine powder, so the concentration of polyphenols will naturally be higher. However, along with the higher concentration of polyphenols, matcha green tea also has a higher concentration of caffeine and potential toxins from the soil like aluminum.
Thus, you don’t want to have too much of a good thing by consuming more matcha than you should. Research has shown that consuming too much EGCG could harm your liver, so don’t go crazy with matcha and other polyphenols.
Popular Types of Green Tea
Below are some popular types of green tea that you may want to try, or perhaps have already tried. I always prefer using whole tea leaves, as opposed to tea bags, where the leaf quality usually suffers (and can often include twigs), coupled with the chemicals that may be present in tea bags.
Feel free to click on the links or images for more information.
Jasmine Green Tea
Organic Jasmine Green Tea carries the pleasant aroma of jasmine flowers mixed in. Because of the labor involved in picking jasmine flowers, jasmine green tea is more expensive, but the flavor can be worth it!
Gunpowder Green Tea
Gunpowder Green Tea has a nice strong flavor. The name comes from the leaves being rolled into the shape of gunpowder pellets. Most descriptions of the flavor are “smoky,” but I tend to describe it also as “earthy.”
Summary of the Health Benefits of Green Tea
Although I didn’t cover all of the specific health benefits of green tea, a main takeaway is that green tea prevents and reduces inflammation in the body. Research has supported that chronic inflammation is the root of so many diseases and health conditions.
Thus, knowing that green tea is effective in fighting inflammation, we can safely conclude that green tea can help prevent a whole lot of diseases and negative health effects.
Of course, no magic bullet ever exists in health. If you’re leading an otherwise unhealthy lifestyle or have certain predispositions to certain health conditions, drinking green tea won’t guarantee prevention. Rather, green tea could be one of the many tools you use to try to stay healthy.
If nothing else, you can at least use it to calm your mind during the day (paired with our 10 Bona Fide Natural Relaxation Techniques to Combat Stress) or as a healthy alternative to sugary beverages.
Please share your favorite kind of green tea to drink, your love of green tea, or any other thoughts inspired by this article. We’d love to hear from you.