There Are Too Many Health Benefits of Green Tea to Count — But Here Are 11 of Our Favorites
There’s nothing like a good cup of tea. From the moment its warmth hits your lips and soothes its way down to your belly — or from the very second you hear the ice clink and feel its coolness flow through your body — it is creating goodness on many different levels. It doesn’t hurt that the health benefits of green tea are receiving more recognition than ever before.
Green tea has been revered for its amazing health benefits for centuries. Ujido Matcha Green Tea is a highly concentrated form of Japanese green tea, containing 137 times more antioxidants than ordinary green tea.
Tea Is the Perfect Comfort Food
Green tea, in particular, is known for its astounding health benefits, as well as its crisp yet sweet flavor. People of India, China, Japan, and Thailand have been enjoying green tea and its medicinal qualities throughout the ages.
Green tea was believed to be first introduced to Japan in 805 BC, when young green tea trees were brought back by Buddhist monks studying in China.
Only a few centuries later, and Buddhist monks were drinking Japanese green tea to promote good health. In 1214, Japan’s first book about tea was written by Myoan Eisai, founder of Zen Buddhism’s Rinzai sect. In How to Stay Healthy by Drinking Tea, or Kissa Yojoki, Eisai praises tea for its myriad health benefits — including its potential to work as “medicine” to quench thirst, reduce fatigue, cure indigestion, stimulate the body, buffer the effects of alcohol, and improve brain and urinary function.1
After being enjoyed as a cultural staple and health elixir in the East for more than 5,000 years, green tea made its way to the West when European traders visited East Asia in the 16th century. Today, some of the more modern forms of green tea, like matcha powder, can trace their roots back to the same origins. Matcha is different from regular green tea since it is made from powderized tea leaves to yield a 100 percent nutritional value. And while it’s highly concentrated and antioxidant-rich, matcha still comes from the plant used to make Japanese green tea — the same Japanese green tea used in traditional tea ceremonies.
What’s the Difference in Green Tea?
All tea leaves come from the Camellia sinensis bush, but it’s the way they’re processed that determines what type of tea they will become. To make black and oolong tea, for example, the leaves are left to wither for a short time to encourage fermentation.
The leaves of green tea, on the other hand, are picked, steamed, or pan-fired immediately and then quickly rolled and tied, all to intentionally keep them from fermenting. It is the fresh leaves that have the helpful chemicals, and like kryptonite to Superman, oxygen is their worst enemy.2 Matcha green tea is powdered to preserve its extraordinary nutrient profile. When measured on the ORAC scale, matcha ranks higher than almost all other antioxidant “superfoods” at 1348, compared to acai berries at 1027 and dark chocolate at 208. Matcha is also finished in the shade for four weeks to stimulate its chlorophyll content, unlike traditional green tea. The rich chlorophyll in matcha may support liver health, encourage detoxification, and help to balance blood sugar.3,4,5
Almost all of the tea grown in Japan is green tea, and like coffee and fine wine, there are countless different varietals.
The different types of Japanese green tea are often characterized by the timing of the harvest and the methods used for growing and processing. For instance, the most common and well-known green tea variety in Japan is Sencha. Sencha is traditionally processed by steaming and rolling the green tea leaves before they are roasted later in the cycle. This steaming process helps to prevent oxidation (the enemy of green tea), leaving Sencha tea with a mellow, grassy, earthy flavor that has been compared to seaweed.
Green Tea’s ‘Superhero’ Ingredient
Fresh tea leaves contain powerful antioxidants called polyphenols in the highest amounts. Antioxidants are substances that hunt down free radicals — angry compounds in the body that alter cells, corrupt DNA, and even cause cell death and are attributed to a whole host of health problems, including cancer and heart disease. In 2013, Spanish researchers associated a high polyphenol intake with a 30 percent mortality reduction in older adults.6
Polyphenols make up about 30 percent of the dry leaf weight — so when you’re drinking a cup of tea, it’s doing much more than just warming your body.
In green tea leaves, polyphenols exist as a series of chemicals called catechins. Catechins hold all the potent antioxidant and disease-fighting properties. There are five different types of catechins, but the mightiest of all is epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCg for short.
Black tea, ginkgo biloba leaves, dark chocolate, and wine all have catechins, but green tea has them all beat. Nothing has as many free-radical fighting catechins as green tea! You’d have to eat many bars of chocolate or drink a lot of wine to catch up. This might be fun in the short run, but it’s not very healthy or practical down the road. But green tea is a unique source of these concentrated chemicals. The concentrated catechins in green tea can boost key detox enzymes in the body that may help to strengthen its metabolic defense against cancer, according to a 2007 study conducted on 42 people and published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.7
Catechins Enter the Ring Swinging — Or, 11 Great Reasons to Drink More Green Tea
With antioxidant effects that are stronger than a serving of broccoli, spinach, carrots, or strawberries, EGCgs are truly extraordinary.
Praised for their disease-prevention and anti-aging properties, researchers have shown these catechins are capable of:
- Regulating cholesterol levels. Catechins may be able to block cholesterol absorption and boost the excretion of cholesterol-containing bile salts — very important detergent-like chemicals produced by our friend, the liver. In a 2002 study conducted on almost 14,000 Japanese workers, green tea consumption was associated with a lower serum concentration of total cholesterol in healthy employees from ages 40 to 69-years-old.8
- Lowering high blood pressure. Depending upon how much stress you’re under, sometimes the body will signal the arteries to release an enzyme called ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) that causes blood vessels to constrict and your blood pressure to soar. Catechins can take the action of ACE down to a snail’s pace. In fact, a double-blind study of 42 subjects by the Boston University School of Medicine showed a significant improvement in vascular function just two hours after an initial dose of this wonder chemical.9
- Bullying some cancer cells (while leaving the good ones alone). As mentioned, EGCg may put the brakes on an enzyme required for cancer growth — and may also potentially kill cultured cells without harming healthy cells.10 For example, one study of 472 women with breast cancer in various stages showed that women who drank the most green tea experienced the least spread of cancer.11
- Waging war on disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Researchers believe that catechins stick to proteins, keeping bacteria from latching on to cell walls and disrupting their ability to destroy them. The same thing happens to viruses! This also means that gum disease and tooth decay caused by bacteria can stay in check, and breath can stay mild and sweet.12
- Giving digestion a kick. Sip it slowly after a meal, and you’ll see how well green tea stimulates healthy digestion. Researchers also discovered in 2012 that women who drink green tea may have a lower risk of developing some types of digestive cancers.13
- Helping control blood sugar levels. There they go again — it’s most likely the catechins that are busy working to control blood sugar. Drinking green tea with starchy food could help to naturally lower spikes in blood sugar — all thanks to the antioxidant EGCg.14
- Lending a hand with weight loss. Studies suggest that catechins may boost metabolism (yes!) and help burn fat, and for many, that’s a dream come true.15 While you’re sipping away, catechins are orchestrating ways to intensify levels of fat oxidation and thermogenesis (the rate at which your body burns calories). They also inhibit fat absorption and help to regulate glucose.16 And, as if that wasn’t enough, they may even help to reduce your appetite.17
- Acting as a bodyguard to the liver. Green tea protects the liver by stimulating the immune system and warding off toxins such as alcohol and cigarette smoke.18
- Soothing irritated joints. EGCg in green tea slows down the production of the molecules that contribute to inflammation and joint damage in people with rheumatoid arthritis, according to the latest research.19 It also suppresses inflammation in connective tissue, too!
- Keeping the brain sharp with age. University of Leeds researchers discovered in 2013 that EGCg in green tea (and resveratrol in red wine) may disrupt a critical step in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Green tea extract helped to distort the shape of the amyloid balls so that they were not able to bind to nerve cells in the brain.20 Green tea, and especially highly concentrated Ujido Matcha Green Tea, also contains the “relaxing” amino acid L-theanine to increase feel-good brain chemicals, while improving sleep, mood, and attention span.21,22,23
- Slashing stroke risk. Researchers discovered in a 2013 study published in Stroke that people who drank up to four cups of green tea a day had a 20 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those who rarely drank it.24
Lower cholesterol and blood pressure, protection against stroke and Alzheimer’s disease, weight loss support and blood sugar control — it’s hard to find a good reason not to drink green tea. In each cup of green tea, there’s the potential to restore and rebalance health, while reducing risk of chronic disease. It’s no wonder this ancient drink is the second most widely consumed beverage next to water.
What To Remember Most About This Article:
Green tea is rejuvenating, refreshing, and relaxing, and it also has the potential to improve your health. Ever since green tea was brought over to Japan from China in 805 BC, and later introduced to the West by European traders in the 16th century, it has taken our world by storm. It may come as no surprise to hear that tea is the second most widely consumed beverage next to water.
Green tea remains an ancient health elixir and modern-day health drink because of one “superstar” ingredient: polyphenols. Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants that hunt down and neutralize the free radicals in the body known to cause premature aging and disease. The polyphenols in green tea can be found as a group of chemicals called catechins. These concentrated chemicals, with the potential to boost detox enzymes in the body needed to strengthen its natural defense against cancer, are credited for making green tea the popular health beverage it is today.
You can enjoy green tea traditionally brewed or as a convenient matcha powder, highly concentrated to preserve 100 percent of its nutritional value. And with the extensive health research that supports green tea, it may be almost impossible not to see your health improve after sipping on this antioxidant drink. The catechins in green tea may help to regulate cholesterol, lower high blood pressure, kill cancer cells, inhibit bacterial and viral growth, support healthy digestion, manage blood sugar, aid in weight loss, fortify the liver, soothe achy joints, and more. Concentrated Ujido Matcha Green Tea may nourish the brain, stabilize energy levels, and balance mood throughout the day.
- Eisai, and Shōkin Furuta. Kissa Yōjō Tōkyō: Kōdansha, 1982. Print.
- Taylor, Nadine, M.S., R. D. “Green Tea Fact Sheet.”
- Dingley, Karen H., et al. “Effect of dietary constituents with chemopreventive potential on adduct formation of a low dose of the heterocyclic amines PhIP and IQ and phase II hepatic enzymes.” Nutrition and Cancer 2 (2003): 212-221.
- Jubert, Carole, et al. “Effects of chlorophyll and chlorophyllin on low-dose aflatoxin B1 pharmacokinetics in human volunteers.” Cancer Prevention Research 12 (2009): 1015-1022.
- Stenblom, Eva-Lena, et al. “Supplementation by thylakoids to a high carbohydrate meal decreases feelings of hunger, elevates CCK levels and prevents postprandial hypoglycaemia in overweight women.” Appetite 68 (2013): 118-123.
- Zamora-Ros, M. Rabassa, A. Cherubini, M. Urpi-Sarda, S. Bandinelli, L. Ferrucci, C. Andres-Lacueva. High Concentrations of a Urinary Biomarker of Polyphenol Intake Are Associated with Decreased Mortality in Older Adults. Journal of Nutrition, 2013; 143 (9): 1445 DOI: 10.3945/jn.113.177121.
- Chow HH, Hakim IA, Vining DR, Crowell JA, Cordova CA, Chew WM, Xu MJ, Hsu CH, Ranger-Moore J, Alberts DS. Effects of repeated green tea catechin administration on human cytochrome P450 activity. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2006 Dec;15(12):2473-6.
- Tokunaga S, White IR, Frost C, Tanaka K, Kono S, Tokudome S, Akamatsu T, Moriyama T, Zakouji H. Green tea consumption and serum lipids and lipoproteins in a population of healthy workers in Japan. Ann Epidemiol. 2002 Apr;12(3):157-65.
- Widlansky ME, Hamburg NM, Anter E, Holbrook M, Kahn DF, Elliott JG, Keaney JF Jr, Vita JA. Acute EGCG supplementation reverses endothelial dysfunction in patients with coronary artery disease. J Am Coll Nutr. 2007 Apr;26(2):95-102.
- “Study finds how green tea may prevent cancer.” Perdue News.
- Nakachi K, Suemasu K, Suga K, Takeo T, Imai K, Higashi Y. Influence of drinking green tea on breast cancer malignancy among Japanese patients. Jpn J Cancer Res. 1998 Mar;89(3):254-61.
- Kushiyama et al. Relationship Between Intake of Green Tea and Periodontal Disease. Journal of Periodontology, 2009; 80 (3): 372 DOI: 10.1902/jop.2009.080510.
- Nechuta, X.-O. Shu, H.-L. Li, G. Yang, B.-T. Ji, Y.-B. Xiang, H. Cai, W.-H. Chow, Y.-T. Gao, W. Zheng. Prospective cohort study of tea consumption and risk of digestive system cancers: results from the Shanghai Women’s Health Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2012; 96 (5): 1056 DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.111.031419.
- Sarah C. Forester, Yeyi Gu, Joshua D. Lambert. Inhibition of starch digestion by the green tea polyphenol, (−)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 2012; 56 (11): 1647 DOI: 10.1002/mnfr.201200206.
- Kimberly A. Grove, Sudathip Sae-tan, Mary J. Kennett, Joshua D. Lambert. (−)-Epigallocatechin-3-gallate Inhibits Pancreatic Lipase and Reduces Body Weight Gain in High Fat-Fed Obese Mice. Obesity, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/oby.2011.139.
- Park, Jae-Hyung et al. Green tea extract with polyethylene glycol-3350 reduces body weight and improves glucose tolerance in db/db and high-fat diet mice. Naunyn-Schmiedeberg’s Archives of Pharmacology, 2013 DOI: 10.1007/s00210-013-0869-9.
- Kao YH, Hiipakka RA, Liao S. Modulation of endocrine systems and food intake by green tea epigallocatechin gallate. 2000 Mar;141(3):980-7.
- Gawish, Azza M. Role of green tea on nicotine toxicity on liver and lung of mice: Histological and morphometrical studies. African Journal of Biotechnology 11(8), pp. 2013-2025, 26 January, 2012.
- Anil K. Singh, Sadiq Umar, Sharayah Riegsecker, Mukesh Chourasia, Salahuddin Ahmed. Regulation of Transforming Growth Factor β-Activated Kinase Activation by Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate in Rheumatoid Arthritis Synovial Fibroblasts: Suppression of K63-Linked Autoubiquitination of Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor-Associated Factor 6. Arthritis & Rheumatology, 2016; 68 (2): 347 DOI: 10.1002/art.39447.
- Jo V. Rushworth, Heledd H. Griffiths, Nicole T. Watt and Nigel M. Hooper. Prion protein-mediated neurotoxity of amyloid-β oligomers requires lipid rafts and the transmembrane LRP1. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2013 DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M112.400358.
- Wakabayashi, Chisato, et al. “Behavioral and molecular evidence for psychotropic effects in L-theanine.” Psychopharmacology 4 (2012): 1099-1109.
- Gomez-Ramirez, Manuel, et al. “The deployment of intersensory selective attention: a high-density electrical mapping study of the effects of theanine.” Clinical Neuropharmacology 1 (2007): 25-38.
- Roan, Shari. “L-theanine: New drinks promise focus, but more research attention needed.” Chicago Tribune.
- Kokubo, Y., H. Iso, I. Saito, K. Yamagishi, H. Yatsuya, J. Ishihara, M. Inoue, and S. Tsugane. “The Impact of Green Tea and Coffee Consumption on the Reduced Risk of Stroke Incidence in Japanese Population: The Japan Public Health Center-Based Study Cohort.” Stroke 5 (2013): 1369-374. Web.