Green tea seems to be replacing coffee as the go-to beverage across the world, especially among fitness freaks. And if you haven’t yet joined the green tea revolution, you may change your mind after you read this article. This article will give you an insight into the origin, nutritional composition and health benefits of green tea along with important factors to consider when you buy green tea.
Origin of Green Tea
Research states that green tea was first consumed in China, about 4,000 years ago. Now, this lesser known cousin of black tea is widely produced in many Asian countries. Most varieties of tea, including green tea, are derived from the dried leaves of the Camellia sinensis bush. The distinguishing factor that sets each tea apart is how it is processed and the level of oxidation of the leaves. Green tea is considered the healthiest of all teas as it is made from unoxidized leaves with minimal processing. Thus, the final packed tea still retains most of the antioxidants and polyphenols as found in fresh leaves.
Nutritional Composition of Green Tea
So what makes green tea a healthy option? Green tea is a rich source of flavonols and catechins along with traces of important minerals. Catechins are natural antioxidants that help in the prevention and treatment of many chronic ailments such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Green tea is 99.9% water and a 100 ml serving of unsweetened brewed green tea contributes about 1 calorie. It also contains lesser caffeine (20-45 milligrams a cup) as compared to black tea (50 milligrams a cup) and coffee (95 milligrams a cup).
Health Benefits of Green Tea
Now that you know the origin and composition of green tea, let’s take a closer look at how drinking a few cups of this refreshing brew every day can make a positive contribution to your health:
- Prevents Cardiovascular Illnesses – Reports state that drinking green tea can reduce your risk of heart problems as it lowers the levels of bad cholesterol. As green tea is a rich source of antioxidants, it offers strong protection against heart disease and strokes. Consumption of green tea can also prevent another medical condition known as atherosclerosis that can lead to cardiovascular disease.
- Promotes Weight Loss – Being overweight puts you at a risk of developing a lot of medical problems like diabetes and cancer. The bio-active components in green tea improve metabolic activity and stimulate the movement of fat converting it into usable energy. Hence, regular consumption of green tea can aid in weight management.
- Lowers the Risk of Certain Cancers – Studies show that green tea can be helpful in the prevention and treatment of certain cancers. Cancer is caused by rapid multiplication of cells in different parts of your body. The catechins found in green tea boost immunity and neutralize free radicals inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. It is believed that drinking 4 cups of green tea daily can destroy cancer cells without affecting the healthy ones.
- Reduces Blood Sugar Levels – Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic illness in which blood sugar levels rise above normal owing to insufficient production of insulin or insulin resistance by the body. Regular consumption of green tea minimizes the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream reducing the risk of developing diabetes.
Do bear in mind that the research on the above mentioned health benefits is not conclusive. So it is best to talk to your doctor if you plan to include green tea in your daily diet.
Finding the Best Green Tea
With the increasing popularity of green tea, various brands and types of green tea have emerged and are easily available at pharmacies, shops and even grocery stores. Here are a few tips that can help you in finding a good quality green tea.
- Brew Your Own Tea – A ready-made green tea drink may seem easier to drink on the go, but they usually contain a lot of sugar. Making your own tea gives you the freedom to brew it as you wish and enjoy it with or without sugar and milk.
- Higher the Antioxidants, More the Benefits – Some brands of green tea have an antioxidant value as low as 25 mg per serving, while others can contain as much as 86 mg per serving. Always read the nutrition label and pick the green tea that has more antioxidants.
- Check the Packaging Date – Go for the most recently packed green tea as the antioxidant content reduces over time.
- Avoid Tea Bags – Loose leaf tea are seen to have higher amounts of antioxidants as compared to tea bags which contains fannings or dust.
Green tea is a refreshing beverage with negligible calories and is thought to provide a host of health benefits, if consumed regularly. You can try a variety of flavors and different brands to find out which one is best for you.