• Thu, Jan 31 2013

6 Lesser-Known Benefits of Green Tea

benefits of green tea

Green tea has become so popular, some have even become obsessed with specialty brews and green tea lattes. But don’t let its trendiness fool you: There are some big benefits to green tea, and plenty of good reasons to start swapping it for your coffee. If you haven’t jumped on the green tea bandwagon, here are a few great reasons why you should start drinking it daily:

Green Tea Can Reduce Anxiety

Well, for one thing a hot drink on a cold winter day is extremely soothing. Green tea, however, also has l-theanine. Theanine works by increasing the production of GABA in the brain. Similar to the effects of meditation, it also stimulates alpha brainwaves naturally associated with deep states of relaxation and enhanced mental clarity. l-theanine may increase learning, attention and sensations of pleasure as well. These effects are likely due to the natural dopamine boost brought on by l-theanine. If you’re wondering how something with caffeine can actually relax you, the L-theanine balances the stimulatory effects of caffeine so you stay alert without feeling jittery. Three types of green tea with the highest known concentration of theanine include matcha, gyokuro and Anji bai cha.

Green Tea & Weight Loss

As January comes to a close many of us are still holding onto our New Year’s resolutions to shed a few pounds and/or prevent winter weight gain. The good news is, green tea can actually help, according to a study from Penn State University. Obese mice that were fed a compound found in green tea (known as EGCG) along with a high-fat diet gained weight 45% slower than their counterparts that did not receive the green tea supplement. The benefit of using a green tea supplement is that the amount found in the pills often equal 10 cups of green tea or more – which may have its own benefits since it would have you running to the washroom instead of the fridge.

Green Tea Lowers Blood Sugar & Reduces Belly Fat

While you may have recently sworn off sugar and starches, it’s certainly hard to avoid them forever (in fact, I recommend that my patients enjoy one cheat meal a week to satisfy any cravings). According to recent research, drinking green tea with a starchy carb may help with damage control by blunting the sharp rise in blood sugar levels – by almost 50%! An enzyme called alpha-amylase helps break down starch into maltose and glucose in the body. EGCG may inhibit these enzymes, according to the researchers. Drink 1-2 cups of green tea with your carb meals in particular for best results.

Green Tea Protects Your Eyes

Who knew that the benefits of green tea can extend beyond your belly fat and your blood sugar – and help you ward off eye disease, but it’s true. Research in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that antioxidants in green tea may protect against glaucoma and other common eye diseases. It turns out that the antioxidant and disease-fighting properties (also known as catechins) of green tea can reach past the stomach and gastrointestinal tract into the tissues of the eye. According to researchers, the effects of green tea catechins in reducing harmful oxidative stress in the eye lasted for up to 20 hours. The key is to consume the tea regularly for the best benefits. You can also create a pot early in the morning, add a few ice cubes and drink it chilled if you prefer.

Green Tea Can Beat Superbugs

Ok, maybe not superhero … but it’s certainly anti-superbug. Scientists wanted to determine if green tea may interfere with antibiotics when taken together … however, they discovered something even better. The tea helped the antibiotics fight against battle resistant superbugs, making the combo up to three times more effective than antibiotics along. The enhanced the bacteria-killing activity of the antibiotics when tested against 28 disease-causing microorganisms. 

Your Brain on Green Tea

Another advantage to making green tea your beverage of choice is that it boosts brain cell production, providing benefits for memory and spatial learning. In a typical maze+mice scenario, researchers trained mice for three days to find a visible platform in their maze. Then they were trained for seven days to find a hidden platform. The group that received EGCG required less time to find the hidden platform. So will green tea help you locate your car in a busy parking lot? Maybe yes, maybe no. However it certainly doesn’t hurt and you can reap the benefits of better brain power.

Photo: flickr user Ado-do

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  • Alexandra

    Does anyone know if decaffeinated green tea has the same benefits?
    Caffeine gives me heart palpitations…