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Health Benefits of Drinking Green Tea

By Heather Levin

This article is part of the Money Crashers Natural Medicine Cabinet Series, outlining 20 of the top natural home remedies and treatment.

green tea cupsIt’s hard for me not to get excited about tea. Strange sentence, I know, but I drink tea constantly. Green tea, white tea, herbal tea…I have an entire cabinet in my kitchen devoted to tea and tea-making supplies.

And I’m not alone. Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world, next to water. Billions of people around the world drink tea on a daily basis. And aside from its wonderful variety in taste, tea offers us countless health benefits that we’re only just now starting to understand.

Green Tea Health Benefits

In the book 1,801 Home Remedies: Trustworthy Treatments for Everyday Health Problems, Reader’s Digest considers tea to be a Top Household Healer. Because of its many benefits, tea is one of the items you should always have on hand, and drink regularly. It’s not all that expensive, and based on the research below, it can help save you money on medical bills due to a healthier lifestyle.

It wasn’t too long ago that scientists began to study why Japanese women live so much longer than pretty much everyone else on earth. And not only do they live longer, but they suffer through a fraction of the health defects and cancers that most others experience as they age.

Although there are several factors that influence their longevity (such as diet, lifestyle, and genetics), many scientists believe that their high consumption of green tea plays a major role in how long, and how healthy, they’re living.

The main reason is because tea, especially the less processed green tea, is full of polyphenols, which are among the most potent antioxidants ever discovered. Antioxidants are the chemicals that block free radicals (which age and destroy our skin, as well as our DNA) and other molecules that damage our cells and increase our risk of cancer. The more antioxidants we can introduce into our diet, the healthier we’re going to be.

Green Tea Studies & Research

There are many studies that suggest green tea may play a major role in keeping us healthy and cancer-free throughout our lives.

  1. One study of Japanese women with Stage I and Stage II breast cancer found that increasing their consumption of green tea before surgery resulted in fewer instances of cancer later on.
  2. Another study, done in China, found that the more green tea people drink the less likely they are to develop stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and colon cancer.
  3. University of Maryland reports that in a clinical study of women suffering from ovarian cancer, those who drank at least one cup of green tea daily survived longer with the disease than those who didn’t drink the tea. Those who drank the most tea, in the study, lived the longest.
  4. University of Maryland also reports that consumption of green tea can help prevent the growth of skin cancer tumors.
  5. Other studies (again, reported by University of Maryland) have proven that drinking green tea can help lower total cholesterol and raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
  6. A joint study done by NASA and the Smithsonian found that one of the major ingredients in green tea inhibits urokinase, which is an enzyme crucial for cancer growth.
  7. Another study, published in the December 2008 issue of BioFactors Journal, shows that green tea reduces the risk of dying from both cancer and cardiovascular disease.
  8. Reader’s Digest reports that women who drink tea frequently have lower rates of strokes than those who drink little, if any, tea.
  9. One Dutch study found that people who drank green tea daily lost more weight than those who didn’t. Researchers think this is because green tea may help with fat oxidation. A similar study in Japan proved the same thing: those who drank more green tea lost more weight.

I could keep going, but you get the picture. In fact, all you have to do is head over to Google Scholar and do a search for “green tea.” Millions of medical journals, studies, and research papers will come up attesting to the same thing: green tea has amazingly positive benefits on our bodies.

What’s the Best Tea?

There are three main types of tea: green, black and oolong. The difference in these teas lies in their processing.

By far, the best tea you can drink is green tea; it’s the least processed of the three, which means it retains most of its inherent benefits. Green tea also contains the highest concentrations of antioxidants.

But this doesn’t mean black and oolong don’t offer any benefits; they do. Black and oolong are simply fermented longer, so they have lower levels of heath protective compounds.

The wonderful thing about tea is that there is an incredible variety for us to enjoy. For instance, as I write this I’m drinking Good Earth’s Green Tea with Jasmine. The subtle flavor of green tea mixes with the wonderful floral fragrance of jasmine; it’s one of my favorite teas!

You can also drink green tea with ginseng, lemon, ginger, acai, blueberry, and much more.

How Much to Drink

Reader’s Digest suggests that two to three cups of tea daily is enough to get most of the health benefits. However, you should try to drink the tea without milk because the proteins in milk may bind to tea’s polyphenols and block the beneficial effects. So add some lemon or honey, but leave the milk for your cereal.

Final Word

I try to drink at least two cups of green tea every day. I truly believe that drinking tea helps me live a healthier life, and so far, the science seems to prove this is the case.

What about you? Do you drink tea, especially green tea, on a regular basis? If so, what’s your favorite kind? I’m always looking for a new brand or blend to try so please share in the comments below.

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a freelance writer based in Detroit, MI. She's passionately committed to living green, saving money, and helping others do the same in their life.

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Comments

  • http://www.ginasbookkeeping.com Gina Brooks

    I love tea too!

    How about Red tea or White tea?

    Rooibos (play /?r??b?s/ ROY-bos;[1] Afrikaans for “red bush”; scientific name Aspalathus linearis) is a broom-like member of the legume family of plants growing in South Africa’s fynbos.

    The generic name comes from the plant Calicotome villosa, aspalathos in Greek. This plant has very similar growth and flowers to the redbush. The specific name linearis comes from the plant’s linear growing structure and needle-like leaves.

    The plant is used to make an herbal tea called rooibos tea, bush tea (esp. Southern Africa), redbush tea (esp. UK), South African red tea, or red tea. The product has been popular in Southern Africa for generations and is now consumed in many countries. It is sometimes spelled rooibosch in accordance with the old Dutch etymology, but this does not change the pronunciation.

    White tea (Chinese: ??; pinyin: báichá) is a lightly oxidized[1] tea grown and harvested almost exclusively in China, primarily in the Fujian province.[2]

    White tea comes from the delicate buds and younger leaves of the Chinese Camellia sinensis plant. These buds and leaves are allowed to wither in natural sunlight before they are lightly processed to prevent oxidation or further fermentation. This protects not only the delicate flavour of the white tea, but also retains high levels of the chemicals responsible for the tea’s health benefits.

    The name “white tea” derives from the fine silvery-white hairs on the unopened buds of the tea plant, which gives the plant a whitish appearance.[3]

    My favorite is Black tea. I like it strong and flavored. Chai is at the top of the list. I just found a blend from esp emporium called Orange Cookie which is made with apple pieces, cinnamon bits, coriander, cardamom pods, orange slices, pink pepper, and cloves.

    esp emporium also make a decaffeinated Pomegranate which is great in the afternoons and evenings when I can’t handle the caffeine any more.

    I was in the mood for a nice cup of black tea one evening around 7pm and knew I would pay for it later. Sure enough I was awake until about 3am!

    I know that the herbal teas are technically not tea but actually infusions but we tend to consume them the same as they are marketed as teas.

  • http://barbarafriedbergpersonalfinance.com Barb Friedberg

    Heather, I’ll have to try the green tea varieties with other herbs thrown in. The plain green tea doesn’t taste that great! I do agree that in general, tea is great. But again, I’m upset that +milk is a negative.!!!

  • http://www.savings.com/blog/blog.html Amy Saves

    Green tea is awesome! I like drinking it in the morning because it gives me a boost of energy without feeling jittery.

  • http://silverdollarcoinvalue.com NJSM

    Try Chinese Lapsang Souchong tea

  • http://moneycrashers.com Major

    The finest teas available ithe su and over most ofthe rest of hte world can be purchased from the master tea blenders at Grace Tea Company, LTD. I’ve been a fan for over 45 years. They’ve consistently won numberous international and gormet tea awards for years on end. View their catalog on line – each variety has a detailed write-up and description which can help in your selection(s), and they ship. I’d recommend you try one of their samplers, or make your own, before buying the 1/2 poound loose teas they offer My favorites are Pure Assam, Connoisseur Blend, Owner’s blend, and their Early Grey is to die for.

  • Heather Levin

    Gina, thanks for writing in that great information! I actually drink a lot of herbal infusions, most of which I get through Mountain Rose Herbs http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/.

    I’ve heard of Roobis tea but never actually tried it. There’s so many different teas out there, though, we could spend our whole life trying different blends! :)

  • Heather Levin

    Barb, sometimes I’ll add a bit of honey to my green tea.

    You also could be steeping your green tea too long; if you steep it longer than 3 minutes, it starts to get bitter. I always set a timer so I don’t leave it in too long!

  • Heather Levin

    Morgan, thanks for the tip about Lapsang tea; I’ve heard of it before but haven’t tried it. I’ll see if my local Asian market carries it next time I go in. Thanks!

  • Josee

    I like to mix my green tea with a homemade chai blend & add a little rice milk or almond milk.
    Would these types of non-dairy milks be problematic also?

  • Susan

    White tea is my favorite because it is as beneficial as green tea. Unfortunately, green and black teas absorb large amounts of fluoride from the environment. If you think fluoride enhances your health, try doing some research on it. In the case of an acute problem with dental cavities a surface treatment of fluoride to the teeth may provide a benefit which is greater than the risk, otherwise I would avoid exposure to it. Do some research.

  • http://eastwise.tripod.com Tim Wong

    If you dont like the bitter taste of green tea, try the Tie Guan Yin tea, a kind of oolong tea, harvested in Fujian Province. The processing is between raw and roasted. Has a mild taste and aroma. Shaped like little bulbs 2-3 mm in diameter.

  • http://greenteaace.com/ Green Tea Health

    This is just what I was looking for. I did not expect that I’d get so much out of reading your write up! You’ve just got yourself a returning visitor.

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