Packed with antioxidants, green tea has many benefits for our physical and mental health. From reducing anxiety and protecting against ageing to supporting weight loss, there are plenty of reasons to drink green tea regularly.
Green tea may not be as popular (yet) as black tea, but it actually comes from the same plant. Green, black, oolong, white, and yellow tea are all made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis, a flowering plant that is native to China.
The difference in these teas comes from how the leaves are treated after harvest. Unlike other varieties, green tea isn’t oxidised, which means it retains higher levels of some of the health-promoting compounds found in the tea plant.
In particular, green tea is rich in epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is a powerful antioxidant. This high level of EGCG is likely responsible for many of green tea’s health benefits. It is one of a group of compounds called catechins – chemicals found in plants that have a range of positive effects on human health.
The catechins in green tea make it a popular choice for anyone who wants to look after their long-term health. So, if you are thinking of making the switch, here are some of the potential benefits of drinking green tea regularly.
What Are the Benefits of Green Tea?
Inflammation is part of the body’s natural immune response and plays a vital role in protecting us against infections and disease. Unfortunately, this natural response sometimes gets out of hand and our bodies continue to send inflammatory cells even when there is no danger.
This long-term form of inflammation causes havoc in our bodies and is involved in many chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer.
However, green tea might help to protect against chronic inflammation and lower our risk of developing these diseases. Antioxidants like EGCG have an anti-inflammatory effect and reduce oxidative stress, defending our bodies against damage from exposure to toxins.
2. Good for Our Brains
All those catechins and other antioxidants also make green tea good for our brain health.
We’ve already seen how green tea can combat inflammation and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. But it also appears to have other benefits for our brains, including improving our cognitive function and memory.
Most green teas contain caffeine, which is well-known for its ability to enhance our attention levels and increase alertness. Combined with its other active compounds, the caffeine in green tea can give our brains a boost, making it easier for us to focus and access our working memory.
3. Reduces Anxiety
Caffeinated drinks like coffee can cause heightened anxiety in people who are sensitive to it. But green tea’s caffeine content is offset by other compounds that support our mental health.
In particular, green tea contains an amino acid called L-theanine. This compound helps to reduce stress and anxiety. It also makes it easier for us to fall asleep and avoid waking up during the night.
This makes green tea a popular alternative to coffee for people who want the benefits of caffeine without the raised anxiety that sometimes goes alongside it.
4. Supports Weight Loss
It isn’t a magic shortcut, but there’s evidence to suggest that combining green tea with a healthy diet and regular exercise can support weight loss and lower the risk of obesity.
Green tea can boost your metabolism and encourage your body to burn fat faster. The caffeine in it can give you more energy for exercise, while the antioxidants support your recovery so that you can improve your performance.
Plus, green tea is low in calories. Since many of us mistake thirst for hunger, drinking a cup of green tea might help you resist the urge to reach for unhealthy foods in between meals.
5. Treats and Prevents Infectious Diseases
We’ve looked at how the catechins in green tea can lower inflammation and help to prevent chronic diseases. However, the benefits of these compounds don’t stop there.
Many catechins are also antimicrobial, meaning they can support our bodies in fighting off the pathogens that cause infectious diseases. This includes the bacteria responsible for many UTIs (E. coli) and the viruses that cause colds and influenza.
6. Protects Against the Signs of Ageing
Ageing is a natural process. But the signs of ageing can be affected by external factors, including our exposure to toxins from our environment and lifestyle.
Fortunately, the active compounds in green tea might be able to offset some of these environmental factors and slow the signs of ageing. For example, studies suggest that supplementing with green tea can increase elastin and collagen production in the skin, helping to prevent lines and wrinkles.
Green tea also acts to reduce skin damage from exposure to the sun, which causes most of the signs of ageing. And we’ve already seen how it can protect against diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s, which tend to affect us in later life.
7. Lowers Blood Pressure and Protects Heart Health
High blood pressure puts us at increased risk of cardiovascular complications like strokes and heart attacks. So, it is good news that another of the known benefits of green tea is reducing blood pressure.
Once again, this protective effect appears to be down to the catechins and other antioxidants present in green tea. Catechins help to relax the blood vessels, making it easier for blood to pass through smoothly.
Drinking green tea can also help to lower your levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol. In turn, this reduces the risk of LDL cholesterol narrowing the walls of your blood vessels and causing high blood pressure.
How to Drink Green Tea
You can drink green tea on its own. However, not everyone enjoys the strong grassy flavour. We like to combine green tea with other herbs – both to balance the taste and to add to the health benefits of each cup of tea.
We use green tea in many of our blends because of its numerous benefits for our mental and physical health. Some options to try include: