The Wonders of Green Tea   

The Wonders of Green Tea

Green tea is all the rage nowadays. From beverages to shampoos, from perfumes to shaving creams, green tea is the must-have ingredient in healthy consumer products-even in panty liners!

However, the green tea phenomenon is beyond fad. Green tea boasts of health promoting benefits that the Chinese have known for over a thousand years. TIME magazine even included green tea as one of the Top 10 Health Foods in 2002.

Green tea has a host of health benefits that include:
1. A stronger immune system
2. Less gingivitis and fewer dental cavities
3. Well-protected liver and kidneys
4. Protection against cellular oxidation
5. Improved carbohydrate metabolism

These benefits are largely attributed to antioxidants called catechins.
Steeping either green or black tea for about five minutes releases 80 percent of its catechins.

So why choose green tea and not the more popular and readily available black counterpart? While both variants are derived from the same plant (Camellia sinensis), they are processed differently and this spells the difference. Black tea is withered, rolled, fermented, and then dried to enhance its flavor. The fermentation process makes the black tea lose its active catechins. Green tea, on the other hand, is merely steamed lightly and then dried, thus preserving the antioxidant content of the fresh leaf.

The superiority of green tea over black is well documented in laboratory studies. In catechin content, green tea is on top, followed by oolong tea, with fresh tea leaves ranking third, and black tea, last.
In vitro studies further show that the capacity of these teas to destroy potentially cancerous cells has a similar trend: green tea up front, black tea lagging behind.

Animal research shows that liver, stomach and skin cancer growth diminished in mice that were fed green tea. Human research studies show results that are less promising but nonetheless significant. One study involving over 18,000 men found tea drinkers were about half as likely to develop stomach or esophageal cancer as men who drank little tea. Many experts believe that significant benefits can be attained with one to six cups of green tea daily. The data also reveal that green tea has no significant side effects.

Syndrome X is the term to describe a group of heart disease risk factors (abdominal fat, low levels of "good" cholesterol, high blood pressure and abnormal carbohydrate metabolism). Excessive intake of calories, which can lead to obesity, is thought to be one of the root causes of this condition. Physicians normally prescribe weight loss, exercise and a healthy diet to combat it.

A remarkable result of studies on Syndrome X and its accompanying metabolic abnormalities shows the benefit of green tea. It seems catechin-rich green tea improves fat and carbohydrate metabolism by enhancing insulin sensitivity and balancing the metabolic rate of fat deposition and fat burning.
Tea may even have marginal benefits in regulating body fat relative to body weight, tipping a person's lean body proportion (which is a crucial index of a person's metabolic rate).

There is growing evidence showing that aging and most age-associated diseases (such as senile dementia, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, arthritides) are promoted by cellular damage due to oxidation. Hence, doctors suggest supplements that contain high levels of antioxidant vitamins to at least delay aging and its effects.

Consuming green tea extracts may have the same effects. It can improve the skin's elastic-tissue content, as revealed by a Stanford University School of Medicine study. Soon, green tea may have a place in the future of skin rejuvenation.

Furthermore, the study authors speculated that green tea, with its powerful antioxidant properties, "can help prevent photo damage in the skin."

So the Chinese, renowned for their clear, youthful skin, may actually have tea to thank for this trait-and so much more.

Before you pour...
A cup of green tea contains roughly 50 milligrams of caffeine (less than the amount found in coffee) and about 80 to 100 milligrams of antioxidants. Habitually drinking one to 10 cups a day can prevent cancer.

However, before taking in gallons of this "wonder beverage," know that caffeine in tea has the same effects as caffeine from other sources (coffee or cola): insomnia, incontinence, ulcer-like symptoms. More than eight to 10 cups of caffeinated drinks may even cause anxiety, delirium, agitation, psychosis or bladder instability.

Because of this, do not exceed 10 cups of tea a day.
Pregnant women and people with liver disease should also drink green tea with care.

Happy reading,

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