Finding natural health solutions is of great importance to me and to my patients. Fortunately, scientists are doing extensive studies on natural cures, and their findings are staggering. It seems as if a different study touting the benefits of alternative treatments is in the news everyday!
One natural health solution that is receiving a huge level of attention from the medical community is green tea. After water, tea is the most popular beverage worldwide. Here in the United States, Americans do not consume as much tea as the Chinese or Japanese, but convincing research suggests that it may be time for all of us to make green tea a daily part of our healthy lifestyle.
Why Green Tea?
The three types of tea available are black, oolong and green. Teas made from herbs or flowers are technically not tea at all, but infusions, or tisanes. Black, oolong and green tea all originate with the same species of a magnolia-type of evergreen tree that is believed to have been first cultivated by the Chinese. Of the three varieties, green tea is the least processed. This means that it contains more antioxidant polyphenols, the chemical substances in plants which cleanse your body of inflammatory free radicals.
A large variety of antioxidants are present in plant-based foods, like fruits and vegetables. The polyphenols in green tea contain catechins which are as powerful as the well-known antioxidants, vitamins A and E. Among these catechins, EGCG has been isolated by scientists as the likely source of green tea’s many health benefits. Now, let’s take a look at how drinking green tea can impact your well-being.
Benefits from Heart Health to Weight Loss
Based on my research, I think that just about everyone can benefit from adding a few cups of green tea to their daily regimens. You may be surprised to learn about the impact green tea can have on different aspects of your health:
1) Cardiovascular Disease – A 2006 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found a 25% lower risk of cardiovascular disease in people who drank 5 cups of green tea per day versus those who drank one cup. Over 11 years, 40,000 people were studied. When researchers looked only at women, the risk was reduced by 31%.
2) Coronary Artery Disease – The same study stated that the more green tea you consume, the lower your risk for coronary artery disease will be.
3) Atherosclerosis – Green tea lowers your risk by reducing the levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol in your body, as well as lowering levels of triglycerides and inflammatory lipid peroxides.
4) Stroke – The 2006 study showed a 40% reduced risk of dying from stroke for men and a 62% lower risk for women who drank at least 5 cups of green tea per day.
5) Heart Attack and Stroke Recovery – The catechin EGCG inhibits the death of heart cells which occurs after a heart attack or stroke. It also helps these cells heal and recover more quickly. In addition, EGCG seems to protect brain cells after a stroke in the same manner.
6) Prostate Cancer – Polyphenols prevent the spread of prostate cancer in multiple ways, halting the progress of tumor cells and diminishing growth of the blood vessels that feed them.
7) Breast Cancer – Those who consumed the most green tea had a 22% lower breast cancer risk according to a 2006 study in the journal, Carcinogenesis.
8 ) Lifespan – Drinking 5 or more cups of green tea every day predicts a 23% lower risk of dying from any cause in women and a 12% lower risk in men.
9) Osteoporosis and Periodontal Disease – Green tea protects the cells responsible for healthy bones from free radical damage.
10) Weight Loss – A 2005 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that just one bottle of green tea every day significantly reduced body fat, overall weight, BMI (body mass index) and waist circumference. Even more encouraging is that the compounds in green tea specifically promote the loss of visceral fat surrounding the abdominal tissue, which is associated with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
That’s quite a list, but sometimes research and medical information causes us to lose sight of the effect on our daily lives. Adding any amount of green tea to your diet is smart, especially if you are concerned about protecting the health of your heart.
This is easy to do because green tea is a refreshing beverage that can be enjoyed anywhere. It is relatively low in caffeine, and the delicate flavor needs no artificial sweeteners if brewed properly. Now, I hope you’ll join me in raising a cup of green tea and drinking to good health!
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.