“Great” Green Tea: What’s in it for Your Health?

My Diet Matters
green tea

Green tea is probably the one beverage I can think of that can be deemed completely healthy and almost without any controversy!  A search on pub med today just yielded 4688 scientific/medical journal abstracts on this popular beverage. I am not aware of any studies that are critical of this popular tea as it relates to health, and scientists have been interested in the potential health benefits of this type of tea for many decades.

Green tea has a unique antioxidant

The compound epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is found primarily in green tea, and it is the compound that appears to confer the significant health benefits of green tea. This compound is one of four prominent compounds which are strong anti-oxidants present in green tea. Some of the health benefits of this tea include: interfering with cancer cells, lowering lipids, decreasing inflammation, decreasing the risk of blood clots and stroke, and fighting tooth decay.

Caffeine

Many people assume this tea has a lot of caffeine and they opt for decaffeinated green tea. A cup of regular brewed green tea has less than 30 mg of caffeine while a cup of regular brewed coffee (not Starbucks) has 95 mg or more. So, if you are highly sensitive to caffeine, go for the decaffeinated version. But if caffeine sensitivity is not an issue, even the regular green tea is still low in caffeine. Choose decaffeinated teas that remove caffeine with carbon dioxide rather than chemicals. Use of chemicals for decaffeinating may actually destroy the anti-oxidants.

How to brew green tea

All tea can be brewed as loose leaves of tea or using a tea bag. Use one tsp. loose tea or one tea bag per serving. Using bottled water rather than tap water for brewing may improve the taste of the tea. Steep your tea in water which has just reached the boiling point of 160 degrees. Turn the heat off and steep the tea for 2-4 minutes. Limiting the steeping time to 2-4 minutes will allow for optimal anti-oxidants and decrease the bitterness and caffeine content. Steeping tea for 4 minutes will actually increase the caffeine content to 40-100 mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving. If you prefer iced tea, then steep larger quantities and place into a pitcher and refrigerator for chilling.

Flavored teas and tea products 

Flavored teas will be lower in anti-oxidants. The flavoring added to the teas reduces the actual tea percentage and therefore the anti-oxidants. Nonetheless, flavored teas and already prepared tea products can still be a source of anti-oxidants. You can also brew your own tea, and add your own flavorings such as mint, lemon, or ginseng.

Take away

With the summer heat wave sweeping the entire country, consider making your teas into a pitcher of iced tea. You’ll get all the health benefits, along with hydration! In winter, just brew your hot cup of tea. This beverage has unique anti-oxidants and has virtually no caffeine! Most everyone can drink this beverage and reap the benefits.

Do you have a favorite green tea brand or recipe to share on this blog?

Sue Rose, MS, RD, LDN

Sue Rose helps readers sort through the maze of nutrition information available to the public. As a seasoned clinical dietitian/nutritionist with decades of experience, her blogs attempt to educate and inform the public at a time when there is so much information it is often overwhelming to understand. Stay tuned for clarity on a variety of topics!

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Disclaimer

Use this information at your own risk. Although I am a licensed IL dietitian/nutritionist, I am not your dietitian. The information in my blog Chew on This located at www.mydietmatters.com is for educational and informational purposes only. It is also my own opinion and subject to change in the future. Please consult with your own medical professionals for individual treatment.