One of the most hottest products selling right now is green tea. In the name of Healthy living companies have marketed drinking green tea to be healthy and also for prevention of diseases like cardiovascular diseases. The green industry is booming right now with billions of dollars and even growing more at a staggering rate of 8-10% per year. But is it really healthy or just a marketing strategy by companies to make huge profits? I’ll try to answer that question here.
Green tea first originated in China in the reign of Emperor Shennong. The earliest documentation about green teanis found in a book written by a priest Eisai in 1211, describing the health benefits of drinking green tea.
In 2013, global production of green tea was approximately 1.7 million tonnes, with a forecast to double in volume by 2023. As of 2015, China provided 80% of the world’s green tea market, leading to its green tea exports rising by 9% annually, while exporting 325,000 tonnes in 2015. In 2015, the US was the largest importer of Chinese green tea (6,800 tonnes), an increase of 10% over 2014, and Britain imported 1,900 tonnes, 15% more than in 2014. In 2015, Kenya was the largest exporter of black tea in the world (443,000 tonnes).
People think that green tea is made purely from green tea leaves but there is a significant amount of processing that goes on for a green tea from the gardens to a packet. The most common process involves steaming the green tea or to make it over-dry or oxidising it, which is essentially cooking it. These methods are chosen because they help in retaining maximum amounts of beneficial compounds in green tea and also increases the shelf life. After these processes different flavours are added to make it more palatable.
Green tea extract
There are also some derivatives of green tea which are called green tea extracts, which comes in forms of tablets, capsule and liquid formulations. But there has been a warning issued that these extracts may cause liver damage, hence not used commonly.
Regular green tea is 99% water and contains only 1 kcal per 100ml serving. It contains polyphenols and caffeine, but no other nutrients. Usual recommend consumption is 1-2 cups per day. Although numerous claims has been made about health benefits, there is not enough clinical evidence to support that. In 2011, European commission found that thr benefits claimed is not supported with evidences. But there are independent studies which indicates the following benefits of drinking green tea-
1) Green tea and cancer
According to the National cancer research institute, the polyphenols present might help in treatment and prevention of cancers, but its only been seen in laboratory studies on animals which showed decrease in tumor growth, but not prevent it.
The cancers were-
2) Green tea and heart
A 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that green tea consumption is associated with reduced mortality due to all causes, including cardiovascular disease. But the effects were only 1-5% which varied among the participants. Hence they are still not accepted by Medical associations as a prevention tool, but are advised to patients to aid some benefits of it.
3) It lowers cholesterol
Green tea slightly reduces LDL and some Triglycerides but has no effect on HDL and other types.
4) Reduces risk of stroke
Drinking green tea or coffee on a regular basis is associated with a reduced risk of stroke, according to a study published in the journal Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.
5) Green tea for type 2 diabetes
Some studies indicate that drinking green tea regularly helps prevent development of type 2 diabetes or delays onest.
6) Green tea and weight loss
Green tea may promote a small, non-significant weight loss in overweight and obese adults; however, since weight loss in the studies was so minimal, it is unlikely that green tea is clinically significant for weight loss.
7) Green tea and inflammatory skin diseases
Studies indicate that green tea does not alter the course of the disease and also, if at all, slightly reduces the inflammatory cells.
8) Working memory and the effects of green tea
Research published in the journal Psychopharmacology suggests that green tea can enhance our brain’s cognitive functions, particularly the working memory.
The research team said their findings suggest that green tea could be used in the treatment of cognitive impairments associated with neuropsychiatric disorders, such as dementia. But so far no concrete evidence has been reported, hence its only. Theory at this point.
9) Green tea and Alzheimer’s disease
In a study published in 2011, scientists found that green tea might delay the onset by affecting a gene that causes the disease but, it’s still in in experimental stages.
Other studies have found that green tea might be helpful in preventing dental cavities, stress, chronic fatigue, treating skin conditions, and improving arthritis by reducing inflammation.
But all the health effects stated are based upon independent studies and strong correlation between them has not been established yet. But there is sufficient evidence that drinking green tea improves overall health in everyone but the effects varies with other factors like diet, sleeping patterns, excercise, stress etc.
There are little to no known side effects or contraindications to drinking green tea for adults. However, the following risks or complications should be made clear: Caffeine sensitivity – those with severe caffeine sensitivities could experience insomnia, anxiety, irritability, nausea, or upset stomach. Blood thinners – those taking blood thinners (anticoagulant drugs) such as warfarin should drink green tea with caution due to its vitamin K content.
It’s also recommended to avoid green tea and aspirin, because they both reduce the clotting effectiveness of platelets, which means that there will reduced effect of body’s ability to decrease bleeding. Other stimulants – if taken with stimulant drugs, green tea could increase blood pressure and heart rate, although drinking it alone have marginal decrease in them.
In conclusion one might say that there is no proven beneficial effects of drinking green tea which are synonymous with the scientific studies done till now but, with other factors done right like diet, exercise, less alcohol consumption, lifestyle etc and if taken in appropriate amounts one might experience an improvement in overall physical as well as mental health.
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