A Healthy Treat
Green tea is made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis plant. In the process, freshly harvested leaves are subjected to limited oxidation involving little steaming, as such they do not go through any fermentation, unlike Black tea. Being the least processed, the leaves retain substantial amounts of polyphenols and antioxidants which bestow them with numerous health benefits:
Some of its key ingredients are:
- Catechins (Predominantly ECGC: Epigallocatechin 3 gallate)
- Flavanols (tannins)
- Essential oils
- Vitamins (C, B12, B1, K)
- Minerals (Iron, Magnesium, Zinc, calcium, etc.)
Besides it contains saponins, fat, wax, carotene, etc.; that together make the beverage anti-ageing, anti-inflammatory, preventing cancer growth, promoting cardiovascular health etc.
Let’s look at some of the benefits it provides:
Benefits of Green Tea
1. Lowers Cholesterol:
The vital antioxidant ECGC present in Green tea is believed to inhibit absorption of cholesterol from the large intestine reducing the overall cholesterol levels in the body. The tea helps maintain a balance between the good cholesterol and bad cholesterol in the body.
2. Prevents Cancer:
Catechins present in the beverage prevent the growth of cancer cells. Research has shown that high levels of polyphenols kill cancer cells without affecting the other cells of the body. Thus, the beverage is reliable in decreasing the probability of pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, stomach cancer etc.
3. Lowers The Risk Of Heart Disease:
Studies show that Green tea consumption regulates blood pressure. Also, it helps keep the blood vessels relaxed so as to accommodate changes in blood pressure and prevent the formation of clots, thus, lowering the risk of high blood pressure or congestive heart failure.
4. Promotes Brain Health:
Green tea is known to render greater brain activity as the caffeine present in it stimulates brain functioning. Further the catechins in it protect the neurons against damage in old age and lower the risk of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
5. Controls Type II Diabetes:
The beverage is believed to regulate glucose levels thus controlling the rise of blood sugar. Thus, it is great to have the beverage in between meals to prevent hikes in insulin.
6. Prevents Tooth Decay:
The chemical antioxidant catechin present in the tea kills bacteria and viruses causing dental caries or plaque. It also prevents oral cancer.
Is It All Healthy?
Though Green tea provides great benefits, it does carry some concerns that you need to take care of. You need to avoid or lower its consumption when:
1. Empty Stomach:
The tannins present in the tea increase acid secretion in the stomach that may cause issues like nausea, constipation or vomiting. So it is better to avoid the tea empty stomach, instead, drink it in between meals to have healthier effects.
2. On Medication:
Green tea interacts with various drugs which at times may lead to severe effects. It should be strictly avoided with stimulant drugs that hasten the functioning of the nervous system.
3. Pregnancy Or Lactation Period:
Green tea is a great hydrating agent after water, however, the caffeine present in it is not considered good for pregnant women or nursing mothers. An average cup of green tea contains 25-45 mg of caffeine though the amount of caffeine is much lower than its counterparts one needs to control its intake.
Caffeine in blood may cause some issues like:
- Heart Burn
- Diarrhea etc.
Besides, Caffeine is known to cause miscarriages. Also. it may interfere with the absorption of iron from food leading to anemia. Thus, if you drink it with your meal add vitamin C source to your diet to increase iron absorption.
Nursing mothers should moderate the consumption of Green tea to around two cups or less in a day as excessive intake will increase the level of caffeine in the body. The caffeine in the blood stream of the mother does end up in breast milk and its amount increases in the milk after a couple of hours of consumption, from where it passes on to the infant.
This caffeine content is certainly not good for the baby’s health as its body system is not yet capable of getting rid of it. The accumulation of caffeine may lead to sleeping disorders in the baby and also cause irritability in him/her as well as the mother. However, the extent of influence may be different on different individuals so you need to examine any changes in the sleep pattern of the baby or any other signs of irritability; and accordingly cut down your tea consumption.
Green tea is undoubtedly a healthy drink to switch over from other beverages. It’s healthier ingredients positively affect your body and brain health. However, its consumption needs to be checked, as five cups or more in a day may lead to addictiveness or caffeine related issues. You may go for decaf options; however, they also contain some amount of caffeine in them. So make sure to not go for excess.