According to the ancient Chinese, green tea has many medical benefits including treating headaches and depression. It’s been used as a medicine in China for at least 4 centuries and is now fairly recently gaining popularity in western countries as a way to live a healthier life.
The Science Behind Green Tea
The health benefits of green tea aren’t only based on ancient Chinese beliefs. There is scientific research that provides hard evidence that proves the tea actually works to improve health. In 1994 the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published a study that showed that green tea reduced the risk of esophageal (throat) cancer by 60 percent in Chinese men and women. The reason for this is that green tea makes it difficult for cancer cells to grow.
In a 1999 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from the University of Geneva Switzerland discovered that men burned more calories if they drank a mix of caffeine and green tea. The test subjects were compared to other test subjects who were only given caffeine and a placebo. The latter group didn’t burn as many calories.
Why Green Tea?
Green tea has so many health benefits because it contains a powerful antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGEG). This antioxidant can kill cancer cells without harming healthy tissue and it can also slow or prevent the growth of cancer cells. Researchers don’t know specifically how this works. The way green tea is prepared also preserves EGEG. While most teas are made from fermented leaves, properly made green tea is made from steamed leaves. Steaming the leaves preserves EGEG and prevents it from being oxidized.
The Ideal Amount
With all this proof about the health benefits of green tea, it’s important to make sure you drink enough to enjoy those benefits. But what is enough? How much green tea should a person drink and is it possible to drink too much?
The answer isn’t an easy one. A Japanese report published in Herbs for Health suggests that drinking 10 cups of tea provides the greatest health benefits. The study said that men who drank ten cups daily were cancer-free longer than those who drank only three cups daily. Another Japanese study showed that breast cancer spreads less quickly in women who drank five or more cups of green tea every day. Researchers at Cleveland’s Western Reserve University concluded that four or more cups of green tea consumed daily helped reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Naturally, companies that sell green tea say you should drink 10 or more cups of the brew daily. But based on the studies, it’s probably safe to conclude that drinking four to five cups daily is enough to enjoy the health benefits. There are no studies that indicate it’s dangerous to drink 10 cups or more daily. Just be sure to brew the tea correctly or it will taste unpleasant and you won’t want to drink it anymore.