Source from Everyday Health, By Barbara H. Seeber
It’s a sign of the times: Starbucks now features green tea latte and green tea lemonade among its many tea beverages. While green tea has been consumed in China, Japan, and other parts of Asia for millennia, its popularity in the U.S. is fairly recent. (Black—not green—tea has long been the most popular tea in the U.S.) But as scientists have begun to study the effects of green tea on human health, sales have risen rapidly.
Green tea along with black, oolong, and white teas all come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, a shrubby bush cultivated in China for almost 5,000 years. The differences in the teas lie in the processing of the leaves. Those that are to become black and oolong teas are allowed to oxidize, which changes their chemical composition. Leaves that are to become green tea are steamed—immediately after picking — to prevent oxidization. These leaves retain greater amounts of naturally occurring chemicals called catechins, a type of flavonoid or chemical compound exhibiting multiple health benefits. For example, green tea catechins are antioxidant — they counter tissue-damaging free radicals that contribute to aging and most chronic illnesses.
The leading chronic illness in the U.S. for men and women is heart disease—and a number of studies link consumption of green tea to reducing cardiovascular risk factors, including a lower risk of heart attack and stroke. Some studies suggest that green tea may improve cholesterol profiles, lower blood sugar levels, and help maintain a healthy weight. Though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not yet consider the evidence linking green tea to reduced cardiovascular risk conclusive, scientific investigation of green tea’s benefits continues.
A barrage of preliminary research—test tube as well as population and animal studies—suggests a number of additional benefits of green tea, including the following:
- Sharper concentration and alertness
- Reduction of dental plaque and gingivitis
- Increased bone mineral density
- Protection against skin cancer
- Lowered risks for cancers of the bladder, esophagus, ovaries, and pancreas, and possibly for breast and prostate cancer
Green tea brewed from the loose leaves appears to be the most potent and effective source of antioxidant catechins and other flavonoids. However, regular consumption of green tea — three to five cups a day — may be necessary to reap the benefits. Avoid concentrated green tea extracts (sometimes used in weight-loss products); they have been linked to liver injury.
And try this recipe from 500 TIME-TESTED HOME REMEDIES AND THE SCIENCE BEHIND THEM for good health:
Add these spices to tea to enhance calm, vitality, and mental clarity—all key to stress reduction and heart health.
1 cup water
1 teaspoon green tea leaves
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
3 cardamom seeds
3 whole cloves
1 teaspoon honey or 1 packet stevia
¼ cup nonfat milk
Combine tea leaves with water in small saucepan. Add spices and sweetener. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Add milk. Strain into a teapot.