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Green Tea – The hidden gem for your health

Tea – for some the mornings doesn’t begin without a hot cup of tea for others the afternoon is rightfully named- The high tea. (The coffee lover loose a notch here). While coffee might be the new rage the history of tea goes way back to China during the reign of Emperor Shennong. Green tea has been in the scene for an equally long time.

A book was written by Lu Yu in 600-900 AD (Tang Dynasty), Tea Classic is considered important in green tea history. The Kissa Yojoki (Book of Tea), written by Zen priest Eisai in 1191, describes how drinking green tea may affect five vital organs, the shapes of tea plants, flowers and leaves, and how to grow and process tea leaves.

Green Tea and the Bioactive compounds

The presence of large amounts of important nutrients like polyphenols like flavonoids and catechins, which function as powerful antioxidants makes it a healthier choice.

These substances can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage. These free radicals are known to play a role in aging and all sorts of diseases.

One of the more powerful compounds in green tea is the antioxidant Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), which has been studied to treat various diseases and may be one of the main reasons green tea has such powerful medicinal properties.

Green tea also has small amounts of minerals that are important for health.

You’ll be surprised to know that Green tea too contains caffeine, well less than coffee but enough to stimulate the body and the mind. Caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine. which actually increases the firing of neurons and the concentration of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, the feel-good hormones, thereby leading to improvements in various aspects of brain function, including improved mood, vigilance, reaction time and memory.

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The presence of amino acid L-theanine along with caffeine, which is able to cross the blood-brain barrier increases the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, which has anti-anxiety effects. It also increases dopamine and the production of alpha waves in the brain.

Green tea contains less caffeine than coffee, but enough to produce an effect. It also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which can work synergistically with caffeine to improve brain function.

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Green tea and Great body

Because green tea has been shown to increase fat burning and boost the metabolic rate, in human controlled trials it is believed to aid in weight loss.

In one study in 10 healthy men, green tea increased energy expenditure by 4%.

Another study showed that fat oxidation was increased by 17%, indicating that green tea may selectively increase the burning of fat.

While some study claims neither. But the presence of caffeine alone can cause a small increase in metabolism-  mobilizing fatty acids from the fat tissues and making them available for use as energy.

Green tea and Alzheimer’s

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Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in humans and a leading cause of dementia.

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease and involves the death of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain.

Multiple studies show that the catechin compounds in green tea can have various protective effects on neurons in test tubes and animal models, potentially lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

In a study published in 2011, researchers tested the effect of a component of green tea, CAGTE (or “colon available” green tea extract), after it had been digested, to see how it affected a key protein in Alzheimer’s disease.

The Alzheimer’s Society commented that “this study adds to previous research that suggests green tea might help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. However, the researchers used a far higher dose of the active green tea chemical than would ever be found in the human body. More research is needed to see whether green tea is protective at a much lower dose, and to understand the mechanism involved.”

Green Tea and Cancer

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Cancer is caused by uncontrolled growth of cells. It is one of the world’s leading causes of death. It is well known that oxidative damage contributes to the development of cancer and that antioxidants can have a protective effect. Green tea is an excellent source of powerful antioxidants, so it makes perfect sense that it could reduce your risk of cancer, which it appears to do.

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Some studies have also shown the positive impacts of green tea on the following types of cancer:

  • Breast cancer
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Colorectal (bowel) Cancer
  • Esophageal (throat) Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Skin Cancer
  • Stomach Cancer

Researchers believe that it is the high level of polyphenols in tea that helps kill cancerous cells and stop them from growing. However, the exact mechanisms by which tea interacts with cancerous cells is unknown.

However, other studies have not found that tea can reduce cancer risk. The amount of tea required for cancer-preventive effects also varies widely in studies – from 2-10 cups per day.

Green tea and Heart disease

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Cardiovascular diseases (heart Disease), including heart disease and stroke, are the biggest causes of death in the world.Studies show that green tea can improve some of the main risk factors for these diseases.This includes total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Green tea also dramatically increases the antioxidant capability of the blood, which protects the LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation, which is one part of the pathway towards the heart.
Given the beneficial effects on risk factors, it is not surprising to see that green tea drinkers have up to a 31% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

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.

The study followed over 40,000 Japanese participants between the ages of 40 and 79 for 11 years, starting in 1994.The participants who drank at least 5 cups of green tea per day had a significantly lower risk of dying (especially from cardiovascular disease) than those who drank less than one cup of tea per day.

Green tea contains catechins, polyphenolic compounds that are thought to exert numerous protective effects, particularly on the cardiovascular system.

The best kind of green Tea

China, Japan, and Korea lead the tea production and consumption.

Green tea is available in many types, including:

  • bottled and sweetened with sugar or an artificial sweetener
  • in single tea bags
  • as loose-leaf
  • in instant-powder
  • green tea supplements, which are sold in capsule form or liquid extracts
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Popular green teas produced in China

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Biluochun – Produced in Jiangsu, this tea is named after the shape of the leaves, which are curled like snails.

Chun Mee – Known in English by its Cantonese name, and popular outside China. It has a plum-like flavor.

Gunpowder Tea – A Tea which is tumble-dried so that each leaf is rolled into a small pellet that resembles gunpowder.

Popular Japanese Green Teas

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Bancha – A lower-grade tea plucked from the same bushes used to produce sencha. It has a somewhat bolder flavor and is plucked each season after sencha production is finished.

Genmaicha – Made by combining sencha tea leaves with toasted puffs of rice.

Gyokuro – Grown under shade for three weeks prior to plucking, gyokuro is one of the most exclusive varieties of tea produced in Japan. The shading technique imparts a sweeter flavor, and produces a particularly rich color thanks to the higher amounts of chlorophyll in the shaded leaf. Gyokuro tea is associated with the Uji region, the first tea-growing region in Japan. It is often made using smaller-leaf cultivars of the tea plant.

Popular Korean Green Teas

Korean green tea can be classified into various types based on several different factors. The most common is the flush or the time of the year when the leaves are plucked (and thus also by leaf size).

Ujeon – Ujeon (“pre-rain”), or cheonmul-cha (“first flush tea”), is made of hand-picked leaves plucked before gogu (20–21 April. The ideal steeping temperature for Ujeon tea is 50 °C (122 °F).[85]

Sejak – Sejak (“thin sparrow”), or Dumul-cha (lit. “second flush tea”), is made of hand-picked leaves plucked after Gogu (20–21 April) but before Ipha (5–6 May). The tea is also called Jakseol (“sparrow tongue”) as the tea leaves are plucked when they are about the size of a sparrow’s tongue.[83] The ideal steeping temperature for Sejak tea is 60–70 °C (140–158 °F).

Green tea smoothie Recipe

This rich smoothie is perfect if you get tired of sipping hot green tea. Flavored with cayenne spices, lemon, and agave nectar, it provides all the nutritional benefits of green tea and will fill you up, to boot.

Image source – curejoy

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