I’m a big fan of green tea and have been for years. It’s tastes yummy, of course, but what I love even more is the fact that when I am enjoying a cup of green tea, I am also absorbing all kinds of disease fighting goodness!
Green tea is a powerhouse superfood. It has a whole laundry list of health benefits but today I want to highlight the top 3 health benefits of green tea. So grab yourself a cup of the green goodness itself, get comfy and read on my friend 😉
That’s right, green tea can help you ward off premature aging of your skin. How does it do that? Well, it’s chalk full of amazingly potent antioxidants called polyphenols, also known as catechins.
Catechins have chemoprotective properties, which means they help protect against the harmful affects of pollution. You may have noticed all the skin creams out there that boast the benefits of added green tea extracts. That’s because green tea works wonders at protecting our skin from pollutants that cause premature aging, inflammation and other skin degradation.
You know when you cut an apple and if you leave it on the counter it gets brown and aged looking? Well, the flesh of the apple oxidizes, and that is what causes it to breakdown. Now if you were to drop some lemon juice onto that apple slice, the antioxidants in the lemon juice keep the apple from oxidizing. Same thing goes for green tea. Catechins are extremely potent antioxidants. So if antioxidants can keep an apple slice looking good, imagine how much more can they do for our skin!
Catechins are also photo protective, meaning they can help ward off premature aging from too much sun exposure. How cool is that?! Now before you ditch your sunscreen for a cup of this green magic, remember that although green tea is full of amazing-ness, it is no substitute for a good clean sunscreen. That said, anything else we can do to help support the health of our skin, like enjoy green tea in our diets, is always a great thing to do!
Green tea contains several antioxidants but the star among them with the highest anti-cancer activity of them all is epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG for short. Studies have demonstrated green tea’s anti-cancer potential is directly correlated to it’s EGCG content.
For this reason it’s important to note that not all green tea is equal. When consuming green tea for it’s health benefits you want to ensure you choose a type that not only tastes great but also has high amounts of EGCG and other antioxidants in it. Japanese green teas contain far more EGCG than Chinese teas for example. And among the Japanese green teas, there are some that are more potent still such as Sencha, Gyokuro and Matcha.
All of the steps from harvesting, to the treatment the leaves are subjected to determines the quality of the tea. For example, teas cultivated in direct sunlight, known as Sencha, make for a more refreshing tea and also have the highest EGCG content making them highly sought after for both flavour and health benefits. Gyokuro green teas are grown in the shadows and have a little less EGCG but are considered by connoisseurs to be among the finest tasting green teas in the world.
Matcha is another one of my favourites and a little different than the others as you consume the whole leaf. The leaves are shade grown, steamed, stemmed and then stone-ground into a fine powder. Matcha is a little less potent in antioxidants than Sencha and Gyokuro, however the concentration of EGCG available in drinking one cup of Matcha is still 137 times greater than the amount of EGCG available in a cup of Chinese green tea!
Supports Gut Health and Weight-loss
The list goes on of the health benefits of green tea, but two more I want to highlight are the effects it can have on gut health and maintaining a healthy body composition. Recent studies have shown that green tea sensitizes insulin receptors helping to prevent insulin resistance diabetes. It also promotes weight-loss and helps burn fat by boosting our metabolism. Furthermore, research has shown that green tea can help modulate the large intestinal microbiome. What does that mean? It helps to keep bad bacteria in our gut under control so that the good bacteria can flourish. This has profound effects not only when it comes to weight-loss but also other areas of health including autoimmune conditions, depression, IBS, and immunity.
If you are not a fan of drinking green tea – don’t fret, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the health benefits of green tea without sippin’ it! Cooking with it is one of my favourite ways to enjoy it. Check out my recipe for Blueberry Matcha Muffins. The brewing period (how long the leaves are steeped) is also an important factor in the final antioxidant content. It’s been reported that an infusion time of less than 5 minutes only allows the extraction of 20% of the catechines. The ideal infusion time is 8-10 minutes to ensure you get maximum health benefits.
So go ahead, pour yourself a cuppa and enjoy knowing you are doing your body good!