Green Tea - Diet Benefits

Is Green Tea just another faddish nutritional supplement?

Not by any means. Green Tea has been a part of the Chinese diet for over 3000 years. Recent research has proven that there are a significant number of health benefits that come from drinking green tea, or including a green tea extract in our diet.

Cancer prevention/inhibition, antioxidant applications, weight control, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties have all been researched to some degree. Some reports show green tea may have the ability to help prevent certain cancers from developing. Green tea contains chemicals known as polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties. An antioxidant is a compound that blocks the action of activated oxygen molecules, known as free radicals, that can damage cells.

Origins and Background

Green Tea comes from the same plant (Camellia Sinensis) as traditional black tea. Green Tea is produced by steaming fresh leaves at high temperatures - therefore leaving a significant part of the nutritional and enzyme content intact. Production of black tea uses the dried and fermented leaves.

Three cups a day or more is the amount of Green Tea typically taken in Asian countries. The tea is usually brewed using 1 to 2 teaspoons of the dried tea in a cup of boiling water, or is steeped for 3 to 15 minutes. Green tea extracts are also available in capsule form.

Caffeine in Green Tea

Some people assume that green tea is caffeine free, however, this isn't true. Traditional green tea is about half the caffeine of regular tea but can vary depending on concentration.

Type Caffeine per 8oz serving
Brewed green tea 25mg
Matcha tea 70mg
Green tea supplement 50mg per capsule

 

Green Tea for Weight Loss

There is no such thing as a 'miracle' weight loss food or drug - however there are many indications that Green Tea brings a number of benefits to those trying lose weight:

Studies have also shown green tea extracts are capable of reducing fat digestion by inhibiting digestive enzymes. Others have shown thermogenic properties of green tea (probably brought on by the interaction between its caffeine content, and catechin polyphenols)1. Thermogenesis is the process of the body burning fuel (fat) without making chemical energy (the calories are released as heat).

However, if you are overweight or obese - and change nothing else in your life except to start drinking green tea - you are not going to have an instant weight loss miracle - but you will be giving yourself an edge.

Combined with other weight loss techniques, Green Tea (drink or extract) is an excellent addition to your diet.

Oprah, Dr. Perricone, and Green Tea

A recent Oprah Winfrey show featuring Dr. Perricone mentioned the benefits of green tea, and led to a lot of positive publicity about Green Tea. Here is a transcript of the show:

Oprah: Now I've read in your book that you said if I just replaced coffee with green tea instead, that I could lose 10 pounds in six weeks.

Dr. Perricone: Absolutely.

Oprah: Now really. How could that -- what is the big deal about this?

Dr. Perricone: Coffee has organic acids that raise your blood sugar, raise insulin. Insulin puts a lock on body fat. When you switch over to green tea, you get your caffeine, you're all set, but you will drop your insulin levels and body fat will fall very rapidly. So 10 pounds in six weeks, I will guarantee it.

Oprah: I'm gonna do that. OK. That is so good! Wow! That is great.

-- The Oprah Winfrey Show: "Look 10 Years Younger in 10 Days" -- Nov. 10, 2004

Getting Green Tea

There are many suppliers of green tea extract, and the tea bags themselves are readily available from any supermarket.

You can also buy green tea extract online often cheaper than in stores.

1. Dulloo AG, Seydoux J, Girardier L, et al. Green tea and thermogenesis: interactions between catechin-polyphenols, caffeine, and sympathetic activity. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2000;24:252-258.

Last updated 5 May 2014