11 Incredible Green Tea Benefits

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Zemira Barnes (MS)

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The many well-researched health benefits of green tea make it a great beverage to include in your diet for the prevention and treatment of cancer, heart problems, cardiovascular diseases, high cholesterol levels, rheumatoid arthritis, infection, tooth decay, and many others.

Green tea contains an antioxidant called epigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG), which offers chemopreventive properties.

What is Green Tea?

Unbeknownst to many, green tea comes from the same plant from where normal tea is obtained. Scientifically, it is known as Camellia sinensis. It is the same tea with a different process. Furthermore, green tea leaves are freshly harvested and quickly steamed to prevent fermentation, resulting in a dry stable product. During that steaming process, the color of the leaves is not disturbed allowing the tea to maintain its green color.

Green tea is consumed by mouth to improve thinking and mental alertness. It is also consumed for depression, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), inflammatory bowel disease, and weight loss. It also treats stomach disorders, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and osteoporosis (bone loss).

Watch Video: 7 Amazing Benefits Of Green Tea

7 Amazing Benefits Of Green Tea | Organic Facts

Nutrition Facts

Beverages, tea, green, ready to drink, unsweetened
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]99.88
Ash [g]0.12
Calcium, Ca [mg]1
Phosphorus, P [mg]26
Potassium, K [mg]19
Sodium, Na [mg]7
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.01
Copper, Cu [mg]0.01
Caffeine [mg]12
Sources include : USDA

Green Tea Nutrition Facts

Along with caffeine, which gives green tea its characteristic taste, bitterness, and stimulating effect, green tea is also rich in a group of chemicals, called polyphenols. These polyphenols include flavonols, flavonoids, and phenolic acids. Tannins are also a type of polyphenol that contributes to the bitter taste and astringency in tea. The major polyphenols of green tea include flavonoids known as catechins, such as epicatechin, epicatechin 3 gallate (ECG), and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). These flavonoids are very powerful antioxidants and together with some amino acids like thiamine, are responsible for the potent flavor of green tea.

Furthermore, green tea also contains amino acids such as theanine, tyrosine, and leucine, xanthine alkaloids such as adenine, dimethylxanthine, theobromine, theophylline, and xanthine; carbohydrates such as pectin (also found in fruits), along with glucose, sucrose, and fructose; pigments such as chlorophyll, and triterpene saponins. Vitamins, like vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, and E are also found in green tea. After that impressive list, perhaps you can begin to understand how packed green tea is with nutrients and beneficial components.

Calories in Green Tea

According to the USDA, drinking 1 cup of green tea (240 g) provides 2.4 kcal along with other key nutrients that include B vitamins, iron, potassium, sodium, and zinc.

Caffeine in Green Tea

A single cup of regular, brewed green tea (240 g), contains about 29.4 mg caffeine. This content also depends on how you use the tea. For example, if you are reusing the green tea, the caffeine content will be comparatively lesser than before. Also, if you brew the tea for a shorter time, the caffeine content is less.

Health Benefits of Green Tea

The health benefits of green tea are primarily due to its antioxidant properties that come from its caffeine, catechin polyphenols, and theanine content. The major health benefits stemming from its antioxidant content are listed below.

Delays Aging

The free radicals created in the body are responsible for corroding the body in various ways, one of which we see as the signs of aging and its related symptoms. Antioxidant-rich green tea neutralizes the oxidants or free radicals present in the body. The catechin polyphenols present in it are hugely responsible for its antioxidizing effects, the most powerful among them being the epigallocatechin gallate, says a report published in the International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition Research. Therefore, regular consumption of this tea can effectively delay the signs and symptoms of aging.

Has a Stimulating Effect

One of the primary reasons for the popularity and consumption of all kinds of tea by human civilizations is its stimulating effect. This effect, again, is due to the caffeine and tannins present in the tea leaves. Caffeine and tannins, despite their potentially adverse effects on health, in the long run, act as very powerful stimulants. That is why a cup of tea makes you feel fresh and highly energized. Tea is an easy and ideal solution to counter fatigue, laziness, sleepiness, and lack of energy, and to improve blood circulation. This is why it is so popular with a wide variety of people in various industries, including professionals, housewives, students, and anyone else who has ever felt a bit drowsy during the day!

Green tea being poured from a kettle in a white cup that is kept on a green mat

Green tea is an ideal addition for a weight loss diet. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Boosts Immunity

Research shows that people who regularly drink green tea do not fall victim to common bacterial and viral infections as easily as those who do not add it to their diet. It boosts the immune system. The catechins, present in green tea, prevent bacteria and viruses from attaching themselves to cell walls to infect them. These catechins also counter the toxins released by microbes. This antimicrobial property also protects you from bad breath, dysentery, diarrhea, tooth decay, indigestion, flu, cough, and cold, and colitis, all of which are caused by the microbial and fungal action.

Astringency

This is yet another powerful benefit of green tea. Astringent substances trigger contractions in muscles and tissues while toning up muscles and skin. Even if you do not wish to drink this tea, a simple, daily mouthwash with it can cause sufficient contraction in your gums to keep them firm and tight on the teeth, thus preventing loosening and loss of teeth. You can also wash your hair with green tea and feel it grow stronger and healthier every day.

Anticancer Potential

A research study conducted by Kazue Imai Litt. D., et al. showed that green tea has anti-cancer properties. According to the National Cancer Institute, green tea is rich in polyphenols such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that help in eliminating free radicals and may induce cell death or apoptosis in cancerous cells.

Apart from causing premature aging, free radicals are also responsible for causing certain types of cancer. The catechins present in green tea may help neutralize these free radicals, prevent the formation of carcinogens like nitrosamines and reduce the risk of cancer.

  • Breast cancer: According to a study by Ogunleye AA, et al. (Harvard School of Public Health) there is no clear association between the intake of green tea and the risk of breast cancer.
  • Prostate cancer: Another study by Kurahashi N, et al. suggests that the intake of green tea helps lower the risk of advanced prostate cancer in Japanese men.
  • Colorectal cancer: Findings of a study showed an inverse association between colorectal cancer risk and intake of green tea.

Further, more clinical evidence and large trials are required to support the use of this tea rich in polyphenols as a preventive measure against cancer.

Reduces Cholesterol Levels

Studies show that green tea significantly reduces LDL cholesterol( low- density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol) concentrations. Green tea is effective in reducing cholesterol levels to some extent, probably due to its alkalinity, says a study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Improves Cardiac & Arterial Health

Certain components in green tea can also lower blood pressure reducing the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease. According to Atherosclerosis Journal, green tea increases the antioxidant capacity of the blood exponentially, which prevents the LDL particles from oxidation(one of the reasons that cause heart disease).

Controls Diabetes

If not taken with sugar, the alkaline nature of green tea helps reduce the blood glucose level. Moreover, the antioxidant and astringent qualities of green tea ensure good health and better functioning of the pancreas. Improving the function of the pancreas means a more efficient and regulated secretion of insulin and the subsequent improvement in decomposing and absorbing sugar. This increase in effective functions can help prevent the onset of diabetes.

A 2014 study published in the Integrative Medicine Research Journal has shown that EGCG in green tea can have an inhibiting effect on the development of diabetes. However, to be effective, the consumption of green tea is high enough to raise concerns about side effects. So, it is important to be mindful of the quantity of green tea taken in a day.

Weight Loss

Believe it or not, green tea also helps people lose weight by enhancing the rate of metabolism, thereby promoting a faster consumption of the fat storage of the body. Recently, green tea has replaced many other beverages as it helps in weight loss. Drink a cup or two of green tea every morning and you are bound to lose a few pounds of excess weight over a week or so.

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Boosts Stamina & Endurance

Just have a cup of hot green tea after some vigorous exercise and you will be ready for a few more sets in no time. Furthermore, it effectively counters muscular pain due to overexertion of muscles. Although green tea isn’t widely consumed due to the presence of energy drinks in the market, if you visit Japan and China, you will see that green tea is the premier beverage there.

Detoxifies the Body

Green tea is the best cure for particularly savage hangovers and fatigue caused by the consumption of alcoholic beverages and lack of sleep. Start your hangover with a large cup of green tea with lemon, and the hangover will quickly fade to bad memory. Green tea with lemon juice is a very good and popular remedy to eliminate the exhausting effects of alcohol almost instantly.

Types of Green Tea

Green tea has four main varieties prepared in Japan, which depend upon its leaf-length, method of processing, and season of harvesting. They are as follows:

  • Gyokurocha: In this variety, the tea leaves are plucked from the tip of the branches. When brewed, the color is clear green. Being picked from the tip, this variety has the best taste and fragrance, and this variety is also considered the best in terms of health. Furthermore, it is less bitter, as it contains lesser tannin and caffeine since the plucked leaves are younger and still budding. The only drawback to gyokurocha is the high cost, but as we all know, truly high-quality solutions for health never come cheap!
  • Sencha: Sencha comes from the same plant, but in this green tea variation, the leaves are from the middle of the branch and are bigger, older, and less tender than Gyokurocha. This variety gives a clear, light green tea when brewed as well. Naturally, it is more bitter and stronger than the former variety. Being of less noble origin (middle of the branch) and having more caffeine and tannin, it is cheaper and more popular than Gyokurocha.
  • Bancha: Bancha is made from the tender twigs of the tea plant which makes it very strong and bitter. When brewed, it gives a golden brown tea. This is an even cheaper version of green tea than the previous two.
  • Matcha: This is the leftover powder of green tea, also called “Dust”. It makes a beautifully green-colored tea and forms a lot of foam (froth), but has a weaker aroma than the leafy varieties. This variety of green tea is very popular in traditional ceremonies and is sometimes also called Ceremonial Green Tea. It is far less bitter than the other three varieties, so when you sip it, it seems to hold a natural sweetness, particularly if you are familiar with the other varieties.
  • Houjicha: Also spelled as “Hojicha”, this is not a pure or absolute green tea. Rather, it is a mixture of green tea and powdered roasted cereals such as wheat, barley, or rice. The quality and price of this variety depend upon the percentage or ratio of green tea to cereal content. The better ones, which have more green tea in them, are more expensive and have a greener look when brewed; on the other hand, those with higher grain contents yield a golden brown color and are cheaper.
  • Genmaicha: Like Houjicha, this is not a pure tea either. It is a mixture of green tea and roasted brown rice. Upon steeping, it yields a golden yellow tea, very pleasant in both taste and aroma due to the presence of roasted brown rice.
  • Decaffeinated Green Tea: This is not a specific variety, but it is worth mentioning here. Any of the above varieties can come in a decaffeinated form.
  • Other Varieties: The chief varieties mentioned above are blended in different combinations to produce many more varieties with different names, the number of which makes it pointless to list here. Go to a tea shop and explore it for yourself!

Side Effects

The risks associated with green tea are primarily due to the caffeine and tannin content. The contraindications may vary with the percentage of caffeine and tannins in it.

  • Triterpene saponins: These compounds destroy the red blood corpuscles (erythrocytes), which may aggravate preexisting conditions of anemia, and cause fatigue.
  • Caffeine: Everyone knows that caffeine is an external stimulant and raises blood pressure, and is toxic (it may be fatal for some animals). Caffeine is also addictive and can have adverse effects on the liver and internal organs over many years. That being said, it is the component of tea which makes it energizing and refreshing, which is why people are willing to risk it.
  • Tannins: Tannins interfere with the break down of complex proteins into simpler proteins and their subsequent absorption into the body.
  • Xanthine alkaloids: Some researchers believe that these alkaloids aggravate and stimulate the formation of uric acid in the body, and thereby may trigger and aid the formation of stones in the gallbladder and kidneys.
  • Other risks: When you consume green tea in excess, it may give rise to insomnia, restlessness, annoyance, irritability, headaches, hypertension, abnormal heartbeat, loss of appetite, spasms, constipation, and acute addiction to caffeine.

Availability of Green Tea

Asian countries like Japan and China are the biggest producers of green tea (they produce the best quality too) and are also its biggest consumers. Green tea available in other markets is found in far smaller quantities than black tea. Moreover, it is still gaining popularity, and you can get it at any modern shop. You can also order it from a local tea supplier, over the phone or on the internet. It is almost invariably imported from China (cheaper) and Japan (more expensive) and is packed in sealed packs of 200 grams, 250 grams, and 500 grams. Buy smaller quantities if possible, so that you get to make a fresh brew. Also, always check the date of manufacturing and packing before you buy it.

Decaffeinating Green Tea

This is a very simple process. It involves repeated steeping of tea in hot water and the disposal of the water (you may use this tea to serve those who don’t mind having caffeinated tea). The more you repeat the process, the less caffeine there will be left in the tea, but the same is true of the taste and flavor. Don’t overdo it. Two or three steepings are probably safe. After all, you do want tea and not plain, hot water, right?

FAQs

What is green tea good for?

Green tea is rich in antioxidants and nutrients. It has powerful health benefits which include weight loss, enhanced stamina, improved cardiac health, and potentially reduced risk of diabetes and cancer. It also has anti-aging properties and is used as an immunity booster. Moreover, it is used as an astringent and to detoxify the body.

Can green tea be consumed before bed?

There are mixed sentiments about drinking green tea before bed. While some are of the belief that it aids in sleeping, there are others who are of the contrary opinion. Green tea is said to have a component known as theanine, which is said to be the primary sleep-promoting compound in it. This helps by lessening stress-related hormones and neuron-excitement in the brain, which causes the body to rest and relax. According to a 2010 report published in the Journal of Food Science, the effects of caffeine can take as less as 20 minutes to become visible and almost 1 hour to reach its full efficacy. This means that a cup of green tea could also potentially disrupt a person’s sleep if one is sensitive to caffeine. These people could benefit from drinking low-caffeinated green tea. It is always advisable to drink caffeinated green tea either throughout the day or at least two hours before bed to avoid disrupting one’s sleep.

Is green tea acidic?

The alkaline and acidic level are not the same in all types of tea. While green tea has a less acidic level, lemon tea has the highest. So, if one is looking for a safe option, they should go for the one that has more pH levels. More pH level equals to less acidic levels and higher pH means more alkaline.

How is black tea different from green tea?

The normal black tea is obtained by fermenting the tea leaves. This fermentation changes its color and flavor while raising the level of caffeine and tannin in it.

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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