Green Tea: The Next Superfood by Brenda Rivera-Billings, M.Sc (Health Sci.)

By: Brenda Rivera-Billings, M.Sc (Health Sci.)

In recent years the popularity of green tea has skyrocketed, due in large part to its perceived health benefits. In several peer-reviewed studies, drinking green tea has been linked with health benefits in key areas ranging from increased metabolism to reduced memory loss. Participants use of the leafy plant during clinical trials also demonstrated preventive properties, including decreased LDL levels, reductions in heart disease, and lower rates of certain cancers.

Green tea is made from the leaves of the evergreen shrub, Camelia Sinensis. During processing, the leaves undergo minimal oxidation, leaving the rich antioxidants and polyphenols intact. Among the most popular health claims drawing consumers to green tea are those surrounding its potential weight reduction properties.  Use of green tea has been associated with increased metabolism, making the beverage extremely popular among fitness enthusiasts and dietitians as an effective tool for weight-loss. According to Hursel, Viechtbauer, & Westerterp-plantenga (2009) the overall effect of green tea resulted in increased energy expenditure, which produced positive weight loss results. It should be noted, however, that the effect of green tea on weight loss and weight maintenance varied in studies with subjects differing in ethnicity and habitual caffeine intake; those consuming higher levels of caffeine showed greater improvement.

Additionally, green tea has also been shown to slow or allay the signs of aging, like forgetfulness. According to Haque, Hashimoto, Katakura, Tanabe & al, e. (2006) green tea catechins administered orally were absorbed by and retained in the brain, and their antioxidative and neuroprotective effects ultimately resulted in beneficial effects on an age-related decline in spatial cognition in many of the study participants. To put it plainly, green tea helps individuals retain their memory and, therefore, remain vibrant.

Green tea also reduces the LDL or the bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol, as the polyphenols prevent the intestinal absorption of cholesterol. It aids in lowering blood pressure and offers relief to those suffering from hypertension. According to Loest, Noh, & Koo, (2002) “evidence indicates that green tea consumption lowers the serum level of cholesterol.”

Moreover, green tea offers a ray of hope for people with a family history of angina or heart disease. By lowering the triglycerides and improving the lipid profile, it reduces the risk of heart attack (myocardial infarction), and prevents the incidence of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. According to Shrestha, Ehlers, Lee, Fernandez, & Koo (2009) “results suggested that the lipid-lowering effect of green tea is mediated partly by its inhibition of hepatic lipogenesis.” Thus, green tea inhibit effect reduces heart attacks for those vulnerable individuals.

The antimicrobial properties of green tea have been shown to reduce oral inflammation bacterial related infections that could lead to tooth loss. It is also known to kill the bacteria that causes foul breath or halitosis. Most importantly, according to Pandey (2011), green tea is considered one of the most promising dietary agents for the prevention and treatment of many oral diseases worldwide. Catechins (green tea) possess antioxidant, antimutagenic, antidiabetic, antiinflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and cancer preventive properties.

The ancient Chinese have touted benefits of green tea since times immemorial, and although not a magic bullet, it appears the rest of the world is finally becoming aware of the medicinal properties of this superfood.

Haque, A. M., Hashimoto, M., Katakura, M., Tanabe, Y., & al, e. (2006). Long-term administration of green tea catechins improves spatial cognition learning ability in Rats1. The Journal of Nutrition, 136(4), 1043-7. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/197430772?accountid=28844

Hursel, R., Viechtbauer, W., & Westerterp-plantenga, M. (2009). The effects of green tea on weight loss and weight maintenance: A meta-analysis. International Journal of Obesity, 33(9), 956-61. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2009.135

Loest, H. B., Noh, S. K., & Koo, S. I. (2002). Green tea extract inhibits the lymphatic absorption of cholesterol and (alpha)-tocopherol in ovariectomized rats. The Journal of Nutrition, 132(6), 1282-8. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/197433818?accountid=28844

Pandey, V. (2011). Green tea and oral health. International Journal of Clinical Dental Science, 2(1) Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/901218466?accountid=28844

Shrestha, S., Ehlers, S. J., Lee, J., Fernandez, M., & Koo, S. I. (2009). Dietary green tea extract lowers plasma and hepatic triglycerides and decreases the expression of sterol regulatory element-binding protein-1c mRNA and its responsive genes in fructose-fed, ovariectomized Rats1-3. The Journal of Nutrition, 139(4), 640-5. Retrieved from

http://search.proquest.com/docview/197475322?accountid=28844