For centuries, green tea has maintained a popular reputation throughout the world of natural health and continues to be honored for its ancient powers of healing. Derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, green tea can be used as loose-leaf material and steeped for a beverage (hot tea), or consumed through the form of a extracted supplement.
Unlike black and oolong tea, green tea is made from un-oxidized leaves and is harvested in a shorter amount of time, meaning that most of the antioxidants and beneficial polyphenols remain in tact.
Antioxidants are bioactive substances that fight free radicals (damaging compounds in the body that change cells, damage DNA, and cause cell death), and many scientists believe that “free radicals contribute to the aging process as well as the development of a number of health problems, including cancer and heart disease.” Similarly, the antioxidants in green tea are thought to neutralize free radicals and can reduce or prevent some of the damage they cause to cells.
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The active ingredient in green tea is Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and through research, has been shown to help prevent or treat illnesses such as dementia, high blood lipid, arteriosclerosis, cerebral thrombus, pain and inflammation related to rheumatoid arthritis, and prostate cancer. Laboratory studies also suggest that EGCG work at the cellular level to fight against breast, pancreas, mouth and colon cancer.
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The alkaloids found in green tea such as caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline stimulate the nervous system, heart and muscles by increasing the release of neurotransmitters — this is what gives green tea its stimulant effect and encourages mental alertness.
Several studies have proposed that catechin polyphenols may work with other chemicals to increase levels of fat oxidation and thermogenesis (when your body burns fuels such as fat to create heat), and other studies attribute to the activation of hepatic lipid catabolism (which involves the release of energy resulting in the breakdown of complex materials). While many like to believe that green tea extract can act as a magical diet pill, there is not enough research to claim it as a reliable method for weight loss.
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According to WebMD, “the commonly used dose of green tea is based on the amount typically consumed in Asian countries, which is about three cups per day, providing 240-320 milligrams of the active ingredients.” However, doses can range anywhere from one to 10 cups daily.
Since green tea contains caffeine, it is important to remember that consuming more than the average recommended dose may cause unfavorable side effects. Many suggest that it should not be consumed on an empty stomach or paired with other medications that conflict with its natural, internal impact.
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