Should people drink green tea for the health benefits or for the taste?
The answer is resoundingly “both!” – but let’s look at what the known health benefits of green tea are.
Health benefits of green tea: weight loss
The antioxidants in green tea are called catechins and their role is to mop up free radicals in the blood. Catechins such as epigallocatechin 3-gallate (EGCG) may help prevent weight gain, according to scientists.
Researchers put mice on high-fat diets in a recent study at Penn State University, America, and those given EGCG gained weight significantly more slowly than animals in a control group. Scientists also found that a single cup of green tea a day could have some effect on weight loss.
Health benefits of green tea: cancer
EGCG has also been shown to shrink cancerous tumours – in some cases by half. Scientists at the University of Strathclyde found that, delivered to skin cancer tumours in concentrated doses in a laboratory test, EGCG eradicated 40 per cent of them, while an additional 30 per cent were reduced in size.
Health benefits of green tea: healthy teeth
Green tea may fight cavities caused by bacteria and can also cure bad breath, because it contains a high level of an antioxidant, called polyphenols. These chemicals are thought to tackle the bacteria that produce mouth acid, which leads to further growth of bacteria and, eventually, to cavities. Polyphenols attack bad breath by deactivating sulphur compounds produced by the bacteria.
Health benefits of green tea: cholestrol
Cholesterol is a fatty substance called a lipid, made in the liver. The Peking Union Medical College in Beijing analysed the results of 14 random trials in which participants drank green tea or took an extract of green tea for periods ranging from three to 12 months, or were put in a placebo group. On average, green tea was shown to reduce total cholesterol by 7.2 milligrams per decilitre compared with levels seen in those taking the placebo.
Health benefits of green tea: memory
Chinese scientists gave EGCG to mice and trained them for three days to find a visible platform in a maze. Then they were trained for seven days to find a hidden platform. The mice with the antioxidant took less time to find the hidden platform. The study suggested that the EGCG boosts learning and memory by improving recognition of objects and spatial memory.
So there you are – the overwhelming evidence is that green tea is healthy. But it actually tastes lovely too. In a future post, we’ll explore how the taste can be ruined by over-heating the water used so watch out for that.
In the meantime, visit our online tea shop for our range of green teas.