Is Green Tea Good for You?

is green tea good for you?Is green tea good for you? The answer is an emphatic yes! Green tea is one of the healthiest beverages around. In fact the health benefits of green tea are so potent and numerous that this drink claims its rightful title as a ‘super food’ – or should that be ‘super drink’! So what does green tea do for us? How long do you have!

Heart Health
Drinking green tea everyday does wonders for the health of our hearts and our whole cardiovascular system. Large population studies that analyse the diets of thousands of people over many years have consistently found that the incidence of heart disease is significantly less in those who drink green tea daily compared to those who don’t drink green tea!

It is through several different mechanisms that green tea provides this benefit for heart health. First, the antioxidants found abundantly in green tea, called catechins (which are responsible for most of the health benefits associated with green tea consumption), have potent antioxidant properties that protect LDL cholesterol in our blood stream from oxidative damage. This is very important for the health of our major arteries, because LDL cholesterol that falls victim to oxidative damage will stick to the artery walls, developing into a plaque. This plaque build is atherosclerosis, a health condition that chokes blood supplies to the heart, and is the #1 cause of heart disease!

Other scientific evidence shows us that green tea helps to keep the blood thin, reducing clotting and the risk of heart attacks. Drinking green tea also helps to reduce high blood pressure. Now that is one heart healthy drink!

Cancer Prevention
Cancer prevention is another key health benefit of drinking green tea regularly. Studies with animals, test tubes studies, and large prospective studies all provide strong evidence for the anti-cancer effects of green tea. Those who drink green tea daily are, statistically, at less risk of developing many kinds of cancers, such as breast, colon, stomach and liver cancer. The Japanese, who drink more green tea per person than any other nation, are considerably less likely to develop cancer than those in the USA and the West.

Several studies show that the antioxidant effects of catechins include anti-tumour activity, especially at the DNA level. Catechins can actually protect DNA from oxidative damage that can turn cells cancerous.

Anti-inflammatory Effects
Yes, and the benefits of green tea just keep on rolling in. Several studies have found that the catechins in green tea produce anti-inflammatory effects for joint pain and allergic responses. One of the major causes of inflammation and pain in the joints is arachidonic acid, a naturally occurring chemical made by the body. However, diet plays a strong role in how much arachidonic acid is made in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, decrease the production of arachidonic acid and promote the creation of anti-inflammatory chemicals instead. In contrast, foods high in saturated fat have the opposite effect and influence the production of arachidonic acid. People with joint pain, such as arthritis, find that they can reduce their joint pain naturally by cutting back on foods high in saturated fat and opting for foods high in Omega-3 (fatty fish and leafy greens) instead.

Those suffering with joint pain will also be happy to hear that green tea catechins have an inhibitory effect upon arachidonic acid production, too. If you are suffering with any kind of joint pain, you may find that drinking a few cups of green tea each day may ease the painful symptoms. A great alternative is to take green tea extract supplements that contain the equivalent antioxidant catechin power as drinking 3 to 12 cups of green tea each day!

Allergic responses are another type of inflammatory disorder. In reaction to an allergen, the body will release histamine into the body. It is histamine that causes many of the symptoms of an allergic response, including milder symptoms like headaches and inflammation of the nasal passageways, and the more extreme symptoms such as lung inflammation that can cause breathing difficulties and asthma attacks.

New evidence is showing that green tea catechins deliver an inhibitory effect upon histamine production, possibly helping to reduce the amount of histamine released, lessening symptoms. This suggests that green tea could be a great help to those with asthma, allergies, and other kinds of histamine based inflammatory responses.

References:
J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Sep 22;58(18):10016-9.
Anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects of cysteine metabolites of the green tea polyphenol, (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate. – Lambert JD, Sang S, Hong J, Yang CS.

Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2010 Sep;29(3):435-45.
Cancer and metastasis: prevention and treatment by green tea. – Khan N, Mukhtar H.

J Physiol Biochem. 2010 Sep;66(3):265-70. Epub 2010 Jul 22.
Targeting of histamine producing cells by EGCG: a green dart against inflammation? – Melgarejo E, Medina MA, S

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