Green Tea: Why It’s Good for You and the Risk of Drinking Too Much

green tea

Water is the most consumed liquid in the world, but according to consumer reports; tea stands at number 2, 800 million people in the world enjoy it everyday.

 

The most popular tea that tops the world chart is green tea and be informed it is not because people like the taste. Green tea is placed as one of the most healthiest beverages of all time and has achieved the status of superdrinks in recent years.

 

Green Tea and It’s History

Green Tea is made from light steaming leaves from the plant; Camellia sinensis, and this same plant is the one also used for oolong and black teas. Drinking tea is a tradition people have been practicing for over many centuries dating back to as far as 2737 B.C in Asia, even as far back as that time people recognised the healing properties of the amazing green tea.

 

Nowadays Green tea is so largely consumed so much that it is gradually becoming an all-star ingredient on its own that it can be found in supplement form or as an active ingredient in so many products.

 

What is in Green Tea, It’s Nutrition Facts

Green is primarily water based, which makes it free of unusual macronutrients contained in other food and drinks. It does not contain protein, fats or carbohydrates and there are no calories in unsweetened tea. It gets it healing and health properties from compounds called catechins, specifically epicatechin, epicatechin-3-gallate, epigallocatechin, and EGCG. These catechins are believed to be the reason for it’s potential cancer-fighting, antioxidant, probiotic, and metabolism-boosting benefits. (1)

 

Green Tea also houses trace elements of potassium, except you prefer a caffeine-free variety, moderate level of caffeine. A cup of green tea has between 25 and 29 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, this puts it slightly behind black with 25 to 48 mg (2)

 

Black tea goes through a different fermentation process than green tea and comes with its own set of health benefits, including a reduced risk of having various types of cancer and cardiovascular disease. (3) Black tea also has anti-inflammatory properties, but not quite as much as green tea.

What Are the Possible Health Benefits of Drinking Green Tea?

Research tells us green tea’s benefits may include:

  • Increased Mental Alertness But note the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says this could be simply because of the caffeine content.
  • Protection Against Heart Disease Not many long-term studies have been done, but the ones that have been completed suggest green tea may help lower high blood pressure (hypertension) and keep cholesterol in check, thereby reducing the risk of developing heart disease.  One Japanese study found people who consumed five or more cups of green tea each day had a 26 percent lower risk of dying of cardiovascular disease during an 11-year period compared with people who drank only one cup per day. (3)
  • Lower cholesterol Specifically, green tea has been shown to lower levels of the bad kind of cholesterol (LDL), while raising the good kind (HDL). 
  • Cancer prevention Some researchers suspect the catechins have the ability to block cancer-causing free radicals.  Research has been inconsistent, though, and according to the National Cancer Institute, drinking green tea isn’t a proven way to protect against cancer. 
  • Reduced risk of diabetes One study found people who drank at least six cups of green tea per day were 33 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared with those who drank only one cup per week. (4)

The Link Between Green Tea and Weight Loss: What the Science Says

You’ve probably heard that sipping green tea can turn your body into a fat-burning machine. The thinking is the caffeine and the catechins found in the tea work together to send the metabolism into overdrive, which helps the body burn calories and, as a result, drop unwanted pounds.

It sounds like it’s too good to be true — and it is. These claims come from studies that presented green tea as the secret to weight loss, but most of them were small, short-term, and oftentimes involved green tea extracts rather than cups of brewed tea. (5) Unfortunately, expecting green tea to produce a significant change in your waistline isn’t realistic. (5)

Some studies have attempted to clear up the confusion. One from Spanish researchers incorporated results from five studies and found green tea didn’t lead to any significant changes in weight among overweight or obese study participants. There was a decrease in fat mass percentage, but not enough for the researchers to draw any conclusions. (6)

What Are the Possible Side Effects of Drinking Too Much Green Tea?

Although green tea is generally considered safe and healthy thanks to its many proven benefits, as with any food or drink, there can be too much of a good thing. Because green tea contains caffeine, drinking too much of it can lead to classic signs of caffeine over-consumption, such as feeling jittery and having trouble with sleep

Consuming green tea in the form of concentrated extracts can also end up damaging the liver. One study found women who took green tea extract each day developed high levels of liver enzymes, which could indicate that the cells within the liver have been damaged.

The take-home message here? Approach green tea extracts with caution because they’re not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But if you decide you want to try them, experts recommend taking them only at mealtime, and to stop taking them and see a doctor if you notice signs that your liver’s in trouble, such as if you have especially dark urine or experience abdominal pain

Also, stay away from green tea if you have a heart condition or other cardiovascular problems, or renal failure, and limit your intake to no more than two cups per day if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding. 

Get Your Fix: A Look at the Different Types of Green Tea Products

Even if you’re not a fan of the taste of green tea, you can find it in dozens of products. A quick trip to the store (any grocery store, not just a health food store) will result in finding green tea in:

  • Classic brewed tea
  • Powder
  • Bottled beverages
  • Supplements
  • Weight loss products 

You many also spot it as an active ingredient in skincare products because green tea’s anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants may make it an effective anti-ager. 

Experts caution not to overdo the supplements and weight loss products because the FDA doesn’t regulate them. Everything else, though, is relatively safe.

If weight loss is your goal, though, be sure to check the ingredient label of green tea beverages. Regular, unsweetened tea is always a better bet than the sweetened bottled versions, which may have loads of added sugars. Unsweetened Green Tea from Pure Leaf, for instance, has 0 calories and 0 grams of (g) sugar in a 18.5-ounce bottle, while an Arizona Green Tea packs 70 calories and 17 g of sugar into an 8-ounce serving. Keep in mind, too, that sweetened, packaged teas often come in larger portions than the regular, unsweetened variety — which means they have a greater potential to lead to weight gain.

Quick Answers to Some FAQs About Green Tea

It’s no surprise green tea is a popular search term on Google when you consider its fascinating history and possible health perks. Here are some rapid-fire answers to some of the most common questions people ask about the beverage:

  1. Is green tea good for you?

Absolutely! Green tea is packed with catechins, which have been shown to have extensive health benefits, including reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular issues.

  1. How does green tea stack up compared with other caffeinated beverages?

A cup of green tea has between 25 and 29 mg of caffeine. That’s about what you’d find in a can of soda and less than what’s in coffee and black tea. 

  1. Will green tea help you lose weight?

If you’re subbing plain, unsweetened green tea for sugary soda, juice, or high-calorie coffee drinks, you likely will slim down because this form of green tea is free of calories and added sugar. But if you’re already following a healthy diet and already reach for water (which is also devoid of sugar and cals!) to quench your thirst, you likely won’t notice a change simply by upping your green tea intake.

 

  1. What is in a green tea shot?

Curious about the buzzy green tea shot? Spoiler: It doesn’t actually contain green tea. Rather, the name simply comes from the color of the drink. There are a few different versions of the recipe, but usually it involves mixing equal parts whiskey, sour mix, and Peach Schnapps. Some versions call for topping the shot with a splash of Sprite.

Is it safe to assume a green tea shot is just as healthy as green tea? Definitely not. But whipping one up could be a fun way to flex your mixology skills.

  1. Is matcha the same thing as green tea?

Matcha is part of the green tea family and probably the trendiest relative right now (even Starbucks sells a Matcha Lemonade and uses matcha in its Iced Green Tea Latte). But there is a key difference between the two: While green tea is made by steeping the tea leaves in water and discarding them, matcha incorporates the entire leaf. The tea leaves are ground into a powder, which is then whisked with water. The result? A more concentrated punch of green tea, which means a more intense flavor and possibly even greater health benefits, but check with a doctor to make sure you don’t overdo it.

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