By Jamell Andrews
Green tea in its various forms has played a role in human life throughout recorded history, and while its many benefits have been known for centuries, modern science has finally begun to provide us with definitive proof that green tea is one of the most beneficial beverages in the world. The drink seems to have a hand in boosting practically every bodily system, and many researchers suspect that we have only begun to scratch the surface of the things that green tea can do.
Of course, while green tea is often singled out as a beverage with incredible health benefits, it is important to note that all types of tea, including white tea and black tea, have benefits of their own. But while these other types of tea do many good things, green tea is the complete package.
If it seems like you have been hearing a lot about antioxidants over the last few years, it is because modern science has only just caught on to these powerful molecules contained in everything from berries to red wine to whole grains to, of course, tea. Although the exact mechanism of antioxidants’ benefits is complicated, it basically works like this: your cells are full of molecules known as free radicals, which bounce around inside the cells and cause damage. Antioxidants get into your cells and clean these free radicals out, contributing to better cellular health, which leads to better overall health.
It is the unique antioxidants in green tea that are thought to give the beverage cancer-fighting benefit. These effects have not been definitively documented, but a few studies have at least tentatively shown that the antioxidants in green tea can help inhibit cancer growth and recurrence.
Meanwhile, another benefit of green tea’s antioxidants is that they appear to help clear out blood vessels, especially in women. They do this by making the blood vessels more flexible and thus less vulnerable to the type of clogs that can lead to heart disease.
Green tea and weight loss
Because of its health benefits, green tea has come to play a major role in many weight-loss programs. While the science behind green tea and weight loss still needs more work, early studies show that daily green tea drinking does boost metabolism, which helps burn fat. Slightly greater results were found with varieties of green tea that contain caffeine, while decaffeinated varieties had similar but slightly less dramatic effects.
Researchers have speculated that the fat-burning effect of green tea can be traced to substances called polyphenols, which increase cellular health and help the body run more smoothly.
While the antioxidant and weight loss benefits of green tea have been fairly well established, there are other suspected benefits that researchers are only beginning to uncover. For example, once study found that green tea improves eye health and may even be effective in preventing eye-related diseases. Meanwhile, numerous others studies have found that the tea may be effective in helping to prevent and treat a number of other ailments, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, high blood pressure, tooth and gum decay, kidney stones, and low bone density. Some of these benefits might not pan out after further scrutiny, but there is no doubt that green tea has been well established as an all-around beneficial drink.