What makes green tea healthy?
Is green tea better for you than black and oolong tea? What are its health benefits? What is matcha all about? Find out below!
Is green tea better for you than black or oolong tea?
There are three main types of teas: green, black and oolong tea. All three are derived from leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Green tea is prepared using unfermented leaves, oolong tea using partially fermented leaves and black tea using completely fermented leaves. As the leaves become more fermented, the polyphenol content becomes lower and the caffeine content becomes greater. Green tea has the highest polyphenol content while black tea has roughly 2 to 3 times the caffeine content of green tea. Polyphenols are antioxidants, that is, substances that fight off free radicals (compounds that cause changes to the cell and cells DNA). The idea that green tea is better than other types of teas is generally derived from the fact that green tea is the least processed, and consequently has greater antioxidant properties.
What are its health benefits?
Traditionally, in Chinese and Indian medicine, green tea is used to regulate body temperature and blood sugar, as well as promote and improve digestion.
Clinical studies suggest that green tea can speed up metabolism and help burn fat. According to a meta-analysis that included results from 15 studies pertaining to green tea and weight loss, consumption of green tea extracts and caffeine together led to significant reductions in Body Mass Index (BMI), body weight and waist circumference in overweight individuals.
Furthermore, researchers believe that green tea can help prevent heart disease, particularly coronary artery disease. The risk of heart disease is reduced by the lowering of cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Researchers estimate that drinking 3 cups of tea per day can reduce the risk of a heart attack by approximately 11%!
Studies indicate that green tea may also slow the progression of type 1 diabetes after it has developed and help in the management of type 2 diabetes. Green tea (and other teas) are a great source of manganese, a mineral that plays a significant role in the breakdown of carbohydrates and fats, and aids in the regulation of blood sugars. This can help with diabetes management and may help in preventing fat from being stored in the abdominal area.
Population-based studies suggest that cancer rates are lower in countries where green tea is consumed regularly, such as in Japan. Researchers believe that the antioxidant EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which dominates in green tea, can kill cancer cells, and can prevent them from growing. However, more research needs to be done in order to determine the extent to which green tea can help in the prevention of cancer, so don’t start chugging your green tea just yet!
Fun fact: Did you know that matcha is made from green tea leaves grown in the shade?
It is not unusual for people to think that the vibrant green colour of matcha is achieved using food colouring. However, matcha is actually made from green tea leaves grown in the shade, and therefore, has a higher chlorophyll content and more pigmented colour. The super green leaf is then grounded into a powder. It can be added to desserts and drinks because of its naturally sweet taste.
Side note: matcha powder is actually one of my (Angela's) favourite things. If I am ordering a latte, it is almost always a matcha green tea one!
Enjoy this matcha inspired smoothie bowl, full of antioxidants and love. Click here for the recipe.
Cheers to happy and healthy eating (and tea drinking)! :)
Until next time,
Eat Right Feel Right - Benish Syed (nutrition assistant) and Angela Wallace XO