We’ve all heard that “green tea is good for you” but how many of us actually know why? Despite the fact that green tea remains one of the most popular beverages around the world, its health benefits are somewhat mysterious.
Though WebMD reports more than a decade’s worth of research about green tea’s health benefits, some of those studies question green tea’s role in burning fat, lowering cholesterol and fighting some diseases, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
So, what do we know about green tea?
Green tea has antioxidants: Also called catechins, the antioxidants in green tea help fight the cells that can damage DNA and cause cancer and certain types of heart disease. These same properties are found in grapes, berries, red wine and dark chocolate, however green tea’s minimal processing makes it a good bet. Even though we still condone eating tons of fresh fruit and vegetables, one recent estimate said green tea has 10 times the amount of antioxidants found in fruits and veggies.
Green tea has properties that might help fight cancer: As vague as that may be, scientists and researchers have identified a compound in green tea that can prevent and slow cancer growth in laboratory testing, however we don’t know how much green tea a person would need to consume in order to reap those benefits. Marji McCullough, ScD, RD, the American Cancer Society’s strategic director of nutritional epidemiology, told WebMD that one of the biggest challenges to such research is finding populations that drink enough green tea and have for a long time. “With cancer, it’s always difficult to find the exposure time or the point at which the cancer cells begin to develop,” she said.
Green tea can help with weight control. Some nutrition professionals argue that green tea can aid in weight loss. If you’re drinking green tea while you’re eating pizza and cake, you won’t lose weight. However, green tea is thermogenic, so it can raise your core body temperature and help you burn more calories. So, if you’re already exercising and eating well green tea can help you meet your goals.
The quality of the tea you buy is important. While you might still get some of the nutritional and antioxidant benefit from drinking a beverage brewed with store-bought green tea bags, a higher quality green tea is called Matcha tea. Matcha is covered before it’s picked to emphasize the flavor and color and is stone-ground before being packaged into small-batch tins. In the Japanese culture, drinking Matcha tea is an important ritual, however in Western cultures, many people drink it solely for the taste and health benefits.