irst cultivated in China as long as 5000 years ago, today tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, second only to water. Enjoyed by hundreds of millions of people around the world, there has been a great deal of research surrounding the effects of drinking this steaming hot infusion, and studies suggest that drinking green tea offers many health benefits.
The three main varieties of tea (Camellia sinesis) are black tea, oolong tea and green tea, and the differences lie in the processing of the leaves. Green tea is made from unfermented tea leaves, and contains the highest concentration of powerful antioxidants called polyphenols. Antioxidants are agents that combat free-radicals, damaging compounds in the body that alter cells, damage DNA, and cause cell death. Many scientists believe free radicals play a major role in aging and the development of many serious health problems, including cancer and heart disease.
Green tea has been used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine for centuries; we know that green tea promotes eye health, offers sunburn protection, protects teeth and has the ability to fight infection and kill bacteria. Extensive studies of the health effects of green tea indicate that green tea may help treat the following health conditions:
- Atherosclerosis: the antioxidant properties of green tea may help prevent coronary artery disease, and researchers estimate that the rate of heart attack decreases by 11% with drinking three cups of green tea per day.
- High Cholesterol: studies show that green tea lowers total cholesterol and raises HDL (“good”) cholesterol in both animals and people.
- Cancer: research suggests that polyphenols helps kill cancer cells and stop them from growing.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease: green tea may help reduce inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Diabetes: green tea has been used traditionally to help control blood sugar levels, and studies suggest that drinking green tea may help prevent the development of Type 1 diabetes and slow the progression once it has developed.
- Weight Loss: clinical studies suggest that drinking green tea may help boost metabolism and burn fat.