The Unknown Health Benefits of Green Tea!
Green Tea Health Benefits:
Since it’s discovery by a Chinese emperor 4,000 years ago, green tea has been touted as an elixir of health in the orient (mainly China and Japan.) Traditional Asian medicine has recommended tea (Green tea) for headaches, to improve digestion, depression, a detoxifier, an energizer and in general to prolong life. During the 80’s population studies found lower rates of cancer among Asian populations who regularly consumed green tea. Since then, investigators have seriously examined green tea consumption and the components of green tea as a viable option for both the prevention and treatment for a variety of human cancers.
Over the past several years, more than 500 peer reviewed studies have suggested that green tea may prevent the following types of cancer: bladder, colon, esophageal, pancreatic, rectal, stomach, skin and even lung cancer in both smokers and ex-smokers. Green tea tends to ward off cancer because it contains polyphenols, the key to health benefits!
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While western interest in green tea was initiated do to its anti-cancer effects, green tea has now been studied in a variety of other conditions:
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How often should you drink green tea?
Epidemiologic studies seem to suggest that the consumption of 3 to 5 cups a day will convey many of green teas health benefits, however it depends on the quality of the tea you are consuming. As previously noted the health benefits of green tea appear to be related to its polyphenolic constituents. The percentage of these compounds will vary greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer. The company Garden of Life from South Florida has an extremely high quality green tea product that consumers can be assured will maximize their consumption of these health-producing components.
Many companies are now marketing Green Tea Extract capsules. However, since the “science of green tea” is still in its infancy, be aware that extracts may be shown to be inferior to drinking the real thing because it may not contain some of the yet unidentified components of the tea in it’s naturally brewed state. A list of polyphenolic content should be compared when choosing a product for purchase. Find an extract with a range of 200-300mgs of polyphenolic compounds, as that is how many should be consumed to obtain maximum benefits.
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Can green tea benefit any external parts of the body?
Since green tea has a very high concentration of anti-oxidants (naturally occurring nutrients that prevent inflammation and cellular damage) it has been studied in a number of skin conditions.
Green tea extracts as cream has had some study in the prevention of photoaging (skin aging due to sun exposure), the prevention of skin cancer and for the treatment of dermatitis. These studies are limited and the percentage of active green tea components in these creams may not be reflected in commercially available products.
Interestingly, in one animal study looking at skin cancer, equal benefit was obtained with both the topical application of a green tea extract cream as with the oral consumption of green tea extracts.
Since study is sparse “let the buyer beware.” When it comes to topical green tea extracts, green tea is obviously a “hot” item in the health food industry. Even if listed as an ingredient, it does not mean it is concentrated enough to be of any benefit. One should do some homework and see if the product lists a percentage of extract (the photoaging studies used a 10% extract cream) or some percentage of polyphenols. Just because the product is “green” doesn’t mean it is of any value.
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Don't Forget About The Caffeine!
The only real negative side effect of green tea is its caffeine content. The average 6oz. cup of green tea contains approximately 30-50 mg of caffeine. For comparison a 6oz. cup of coffee contains approximately 70- 110 mg of caffeine. Decaffeinated preparations exist, but they may lose some of there potency in the decaffeinating process. Also some studies suggest that caffeine may enhance the activity of some of green tea’s components.
Also it does NOT appear that the addition of milk, lemon or sweeteners decreases the efficacy of green tea’s health benefits, so add some for a little extra delight!
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Thanks to:Dr. Joseph Brasco, MD: Dr. Joseph Brasco is a board-certified gastroenterologist and co-author of Restoring Your Digestive Health. Dr. Brasco is a practicing gastroenterologist at the
Jacob Teitelbaum MD: Medical director of the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers of America ( www.fibroandfatigue.com).
Article Edited By: Amy Jarvis; Amy is a graduate of FIDM in Los Angeles, CA and has recently crossed over from designing into the online world, writing and designing pages for Divavillage.com.