The Green tea leaves are a useful part of the camellia sinensis plant, which is a small shrub native to India, China, and East Africa. The plant has been cultivated for many centuries and the leaves are mainly used for making green tea, which is currently one of the healthiest drinks in the world.
After the green tea leaves have been harvested, they are steamed to halt the oxidation process. This process preserves the light green color of the leaves, which often carries the beneficial properties in the tea plant.
In this article, we shall discuss the wide range of benefits of green tea leaves, and what you stand to gain by adding green tea and extracts to your routine.
What is Green Tea?
Green tea got its name from the emerald green color created when the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant are brewed. This tea has been part of the diet routine of the East Asians dating as far back as 5,000 years.
Green tea is highly valued for its health properties. The tea is loaded with bioactive compounds extracted from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. The bioactive compounds offer numerous health benefits, which we shall highlight below.
However, you should note that the steeping time and temperature have a significant effect on the levels of the bioactive compounds in the tea.
For best retention of the antioxidant compounds, it is best to maintain warm and ambient temperatures. This means you need to allow the boiled water to cool slightly before pouring it over your tea leaves, and then you steep for 2-3 minutes before drinking.
Now, let’s proceed to discuss the enormous benefits of green tea leaf and extracts:
Benefits of Green Tea Leaf
Green tea leaves, when processed into green tea or other extract forms, offers the following benefits:
Contains Bioactive Compounds
The green tea leaves are loaded with a range of healthy compounds, which usually makes it into the final product.
Studies have shown that green tea is rich in polyphenols – compounds that offer several health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and fighting cancerous cells.
Also, green tea contains high amounts of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) – which are natural antioxidants that help protect against cell damage. These substances also help reduce the formation of free radicals in the body. Free radicals play a major role in aging and many forms of diseases.
EGCG has been studied to be one of the main compounds in the green tea leaves that give it its medicinal properties.
May Help Boost Brain Function
Taking green tea extracted from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant has been shown to help boost brain function.
Green tea leaves contain caffeine, which is a good stimulant. However, the caffeine level is not as high as that contained in coffee. But green tea leaves have enough caffeine needed to produce a response without causing any jittery effects.
So when you take green tea, the caffeine content blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter called “adenosine” in the brain. This increases the concentration of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine, which supports brain function.
Also, several studies have shown that the catechin compound in green tea leaves help protect the brain against neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
May Help Reduce Bad Breath
Several studies have shown that catechin content in green tea leaves has oral benefits.
A study showed that catechins can suppress the growth of bacteria, such as streptococcus mutans – a common mouth bacteria that cause plaque formation and contribute to tooth decay and cavities.
Increases Fat Burning
Many fat burning supplements you find in the health stores contain green tea as one of their active ingredients. This is mainly because the compounds contained in green tea leaves have been studied to increase fat burning and boost metabolic rate.
One study showed that taking green tea extracts caused a 4% increase in the number of calories burned in 10 healthy men. Another also showed a 17% increase in the rate of fat oxidation in 12 healthy men compared to a placebo.
The caffeine content in green tea leaves help mobilize fatty acids from fat tissues. This makes them available for use as energy, thereby improving physical performance.
May Help Lower Your Risk of Cancer
Cancer is one of the world’s leading causes of death and it is often caused by an uncontrolled growth of cells.
Studies have traced some cancers to oxidative damage which led to chronic inflammation. Hence, taking antioxidants is a good way to reduce your risk of cancer.
Green tea leaves are loaded with antioxidants, and the green teas are rich in these antioxidants.
Observational studies have shown that green tea drinkers have lower risk of developing several types of cancer. However, more studies are still ongoing to confirm these effects.
May Support Weight Loss
Given that green tea helps boost metabolic rate, it is not out of place to say it could support weight loss.
Some studies show that drinking green tea may help reduce body fat mainly in the abdominal area.
One study found that people with obesity experienced significant decreases in body weight, body fat percentage, waist circumference, and belly fat compared to the control group.
May Promote Heart Health
The antioxidant content in green tea leaves help decrease inflammation and reduce blood pressure. Oxidative stress in the body usually increases fat buildup in the blood, and this promotes inflammation in your arteries.
However, taking green tea supplies the body with antioxidants that inhibit fat absorption in cells. This helps reduce your blood fat levels.
May Help You Live Longer
The active compounds in green tea leaves have been shown to help protect against heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases. So it makes sense to say, adding green tea leaves to your routine could help you live longer.
One study kept a close check on 40,530 Japanese adults for a period of 11 years. The result showed that those who consumed the most green tea – five or more cups daily – showed reduced risk of disease-related death during the study period.
Another study involving 14,001 Japanese seniors found that those who drank more green tea had about 76% lower risk of death during the study period.
How to Add Green Tea Leaves to Your Diet
You can enjoy green tea leaves in the grounded form, liquid, or capsule form. The powder form can be mixed into smoothies. You can also steam your green tea leaves to make green tea.
However, the recommended dosage of green tea extract is 250-500 mg/day. You can get this dosage amount from 3-5 cups of green tea.
You can also enjoy the benefits of green tea leaf in supplements such as Daily Greens, which is loaded with 50+ organic ingredients.
That said, ensure you purchase your supplements from reputable brands that have passed the product through third-party testing by an independent lab to verify content and purity.
The green tea leaf is rich in antioxidants which has been found to offer numerous health benefits. Several studies have found that adding green tea leaf products into your routine helps lower your risk of chronic disease, support weight loss, and help you feel better, amongst other benefits.
You may consider adding green tea to your routine or supplementing with green tea extracts in the form of powder or capsule.
However, taking beyond the recommended 250-500 mg per day of green tea extracts may be toxic. Plus, if you’re on certain medication, you should always speak with your healthcare practitioner before adding green tea extracts in the form of supplements to your routine.
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