superfoods

Green Tea

Green tea has been praised for its many health benefits, and for good reason. From improved cognitive performance and weight loss to increased athletic performance and fat burning, this superfoods vast array of health promoting properties is quite impressive. While providing a more mellow and sustained caffeine buzz than coffee and containing a ton of free radical fighting antioxidants, green tea should be part of your daily diet.

Green Tea

Nutritional Information

per 1 liter

Green Tea Benefits

1. Provides a more stable “caffeine buzz” than coffee

A regular 8 ounce cup of morning coffee contains roughly 100-200 mg. of caffeine, while an 8 ounce cup of green tea usually contains closer to 25-45 mg. Among its many other benefits, green tea will give you that buzz you’re looking for, but without the jitteriness and common blood sugar spike that occurs with coffee.

2. Improved brain function

Caffeine has been proven to increase neutron activity in the brain (1), therefore working to increase memory, reaction time and concentration (as long as you don’t drink too much). Again, green tea does provide a healthy dose of caffeine, so still allows you the cognitive benefits associated with this stimulant.

However, green tea takes these cognitive benefits a step further due to the amino acid L-theanine, which directly increases the activity of the neurotransmitter, GABA,, long studied for its calming effects on the nervous system and brain.

Interestingly, one study showed that the powerful combination of L-theanine and caffeine was quite effective in increasing cognitive performance, when consumed together (2).

3. Better athletic performance

Certain studies have shown that caffeine can increase athletic and physical performance during exercise by up to 12% (3). Drinking green tea immediately before a workout or event can boost your energy and overall performance, and is preferred by many over coffee since you are less likely to experience a crash later on.

Another study explained that caffeine also increases athletic performance by mobilizing the fatty acids in our fat tissues, therefore allowing the body to use them for energy (4). This can also be effective for weight loss.

4. Helps the body burn fat

It is known that greek tea increases the bodies’ metabolic rate (the rate at which we burn calories), and therefore also increases the bodies fat burning capacity(5).

EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), a powerful antioxidant found in green tea, is now known to boost metabolism, and might be one of the prime reasons that green tea increases our fat burning abilities.

5. Full of potent antioxidants

It is commonly agreed upon by experts that cancer is (at least partially) caused by oxidative damage to cells. Free radicals are unpaired molecules in the body that harm our cells and DNA, and antioxidants are necessary to prevent their damage (6).

Green tea is one of the best sources of free radical fighting antioxidants available, and has been proven particularly supportive in the following types of cancer:

  • A 2006 study conducted on female participants found that those who consumed the most green tea during the duration of the study study had a 22% lesser chance of developing 
    breast cancer

     (7).

  • A 2007 study conducted in China concluded that those who regularly drank green tea had a 57% lowered chance of developing 
    colorectal cancer

     (8).

  • Another 2007 study found that 48% of males who participated had a lowered chance of developing 
    prostate cancer

     with regular intake of green tea (9).

Uses of Green Tea

1. Drink instead of coffee in the morning

For all of the benefits discussed above (less jitteriness and balanced blood sugar, to top the list), opt for green tea in the morning instead of coffee. If you rolled your eyes at that comment (and are pretty sure that’s never going to happen), at least consider replacing any post-morning coffees with green tea. This simple replacements can seriously help you come down from those familiar energy dips and spikes throughout the day.

2. Infuse it into your oatmeal

What better way than to start your morning than with a super boost of antioxidants? Simply steep a green tea bag in your boiling water for about a minute, remove, and then add your oatmeal and cook as normal.

3. Enjoy a green tea smoothie

You can purchase green tea powder at any health food store or online, and it goes deliciously with fresh fruit, a handful of spinach, and yogurt or organic milk (try almond or coconut if you are dairy sensitive). Throw in a high quality protein powder, and you’ve got yourself a nutrient dense meal replacement for a busy day.

4. Make an iced tea to have on hand

Nothing beats a refreshing glass of iced tea on a hot day. Brew your green tea in hot water as you normally would, steeping it for your desired length of time (depending on taste preference). Jasmine has a slightly sweeter flavor, and works well as an iced tea. Mix in a sweetener if you’d like, such as honey or coconut sugar, allow to cool for a bit, and then pour over ice. You can even try half iced tea and half sparkling water.

5. Spice it up

Nothing fancy, this idea changes the taste of a normal cup of green tea. Try adding some sprigs of fresh peppermint, along with 1/2-1 fresh squeezed lemon juice. Yum!

Possible Side Effects of Green Tea

Green tea is considered generally safe for adults and even for children, in small amounts. Like any food, however, there are potential symptoms to watch out for they should appear after introducing green tea into your diet:

  • Digestive Upset: In some people, green tea may cause an upset stomach, and constipation. People who are sensitive to caffeine, or those who are predisposed to digestive issues should drink no more than 1-2 cups per day, and note whether further digestive upset is experienced.
  • Anxiety: Like any food or beverage containing caffeine, for those with extreme caffeine sensitivities or those drinking green tea in very high quantities could experience symptoms such as increased anxiety, nervousness, dizziness, and sleep problems. Under 5 cups a day is unlikely to cause these problems, but it is dependant on the individual.
  • Anemia: Although further studies are needed, green tea is thought to possibly worsen the condition in already-anemic individuals.
  • Green Tea Toxicity: Extremely high doses of green tea can be toxic, or even fatal. The fatal dose of caffeine in green tea is estimated to be 10-14 grams, and serious toxicity can occur at lower levels than that. However, this would only occur from high dose supplementation.
  • Pregnancy & Breastfeeding: While more research is needed, experts suspect that green tea in quantities of no more than 2 cups per day can be considered safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women. It is recommended not to exceed this amount.
  • Caffeine Sensitive Conditions: For those who suffer from heart conditions, irritable bowel syndrome or disease (IBS or IBD), acute diarrhea or high blood pressure should avoid green tea, since caffeine can worsen these conditions.
  • Glaucoma: Green tea increases pressure inside the eye, and could worsen glaucoma for those who suffer from this condition.
  • Liver Disease: While green tea is tea form is considered safe, green tea supplementation should be avoided by those with a liver condition, as extracts are thought to strain the liver.
  • Osteoporosis: Due to the fact that green tea causes more calcium to be excreted through the urine, it is advised not to drink more than 2-3 cups per day if you suffer from osteoporosis.

 

Green Tea FAQs

Q: What is green tea:

A: Green tea comes from the dried leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, and has been used medicinally as a beverage and supplement for centuries. It is packed full of nutrients and powerful antioxidants that support an array of bodily processes, and should be consumed on a regular basis (unless a counter indication exists, as discussed above).

Q: What is green tea good for?

A: Green tea is excellent for increased energy and metabolic rate, fat loss, cancer prevention, improved cognitive function and athletic performance, a longer life span and slower ageing process.

Q: What is the best kind of green tea?

A: Choose a high quality brand, preferably organic, as some low quality brands can actually contain high levels of fluoride. Also, hot green tea versus iced will be more highly concentrated (and less diluted). For maximum benefits, purchase green tea leaves instead of bags, and allow to steep for 3-4 minutes.

Q: Will green tea help me  lose weight?

A: Studies show that green tea can help with fat loss and increasing a metabolic rate, and is certainly an excellent addition to any diet with a weight loss goal.

Q: What is matcha green tea?

A: Matcha is a powdered version green tea made in Japan. Its bright green color can be attributed to chlorophyll, which is important for detoxification and hormonal balance. You can use matcha green tea to make frothy green tea lates, smoothies, or try adding it to baked goods. Matcha green tea is more highly concentrated than a steeped tea.

Q: What is EGCG?

A: EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) is a powerful antioxidant found in green tea, and is best known for its ability to boost metabolism. It might be one of the prime reasons that green tea increases the bodies ability to burn fat at a faster rate.

Q: How is the caffeine in green tea different from the caffeine in coffee?

A: The caffeine in green tea is actually absorbed and metabolized differently than the caffeine in coffee. There is also a lesser amount (less than half compared to coffee), so avoids that common jittery caffeine buzz of coffee, while still having a mild and sustained stimulative effect.

Q: Should all green tea be green?

A: Similarly to many foods, quality matters. If you purchase a green tea that appears more brownish in color, it is probably lacking in some of the key nutrients green tea has to offer. Japan is known to produce the highest quality green tea, and their harvesting methods preserve as many health benefits as possible (practice makes perfect).

Q: How much green tea should I be consuming?

A: No more than 5 cups a day is recommended.

 




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