Green Tea and the Big “C”
Made of the same plant as black tea, Camellia sinensis, for green tea the leaves are dried or lightly steamed, not fermented. This retains more of the plants active polyphenols and less caffeine and tannins, giving green tea the upper hand in terms of health benefits.
We have all heard of people who got a cancer diagnosis out of the blue; no family history, no prior illnesses, a fairly healthy lifestyle. And we may have heard the statistic that one in two people in the UK born after 1960 will get cancer. And that only 5-10% of cancers are caused by genetics, the rest by environmental factors.
It makes you sit up and think, doesn’t it?
Fear is a great motivator, and a lot of the driving force behind people’s healthy lifestyles is the fear of developing a cancer of some sort. This only becomes a problem if we get obsessive about it, as stress is also a factor in cancer development promoting the progression of illnesses.
You may be aware of the benefits of drinking green tea; its antioxidants have been well-praised for years now and the concept that green tea has cancer-fighting properties is nothing new.
But let’s take a look at some cold, hard facts which prove that green tea is not just a pretty beverage, it packs a serious health punch too.
- Cancer protecting, this detailed article from 2010 shows how the main active compound in green tea, Epigallocatechin-3-gallate, has a positive effect in halting the growth of tumors.
- Lowers cholesterol, research has shown that drinking green tea lowers the dangerous LDL cholesterol levels, especially in the case of male smokers.
- Hydrating. This is not to be underestimated. Dehydration is a factor in many illnesses and green tea provides a jitter-free caffeine while still hydrating the body, an “alert-calm” if you will, thanks to the l-theanine compound.
- Metabolic syndrome. For anyone who is middle-aged with a large abdominal circumference, high blood pressure and high triglyceride level, this is known as Metabolic syndrome, a combination of risk factors which may lead to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and more. Good news though, research shows that drinking 4 cups of green tea a day over 8 weeks decreases body weight and BMI, significantly reducing all risk factors. This is due to the bioavailability of green tea catechins which have antioxidant features.
- Dilates the blood vessels, may help prevent heart disease, strokes and dementia. Those catechins are to thank again, as this research on green tea and cardiovascular health shows.
- Prevents chronic inflammatory disease (i.e. rheumatoid arthritis or autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis and Multiple Sclerosis) Sufferers could do well to introduce green tea to their diet as it has a preventative effect on these conditions.
Those with no major illnesses can still avail of green tea’s health benefits:
- If you need a mental boost but not disrupt your sleep, green tea has less caffeine than black tea or coffee, perfect for a drink closer to bedtime.
- Those wonderful catechins have even more antioxidant benefits, they prevent bacteria and viruses from attaching themselves to cell walls, boosting your resistance to illness and strengthening your immune system, even against HIV infection.
If there are cancers or autoimmune diseases in your family history that can be a worry indeed. Hopefully after reading our research your new habit of drinking green tea can alleviate some of that worry and you know you are making a step towards preventing the same illnesses in yourself.
Don’t forget to follow a healthy diet, get regular exercise and fresh air, and you will go a long way to ensuring your health is something you can count on.