Green tea has been gaining in popularity due to its high concentration of antioxidants and immune boosting powers. Green tea has been touted as an effective preventative tool against such serious conditions as cancer, Alzheimer's, rheumatoid arthritis, high cholesterol, diabetes, fertility and cognitive function. While these links are still being studied, there is enough evidence that makes the link likely. But can green tea help us lose weight?
Green Tea and Weight Loss
The preliminary evidence says green tea does seem to support weight loss- in laboratory mice. Preliminary lab tests show three results. First, among mice with an obesity gene, those who ate green tea extract gained less weight and less fat than the control group who also had the obesity gene but at no green tea extract. They also had less fat in their livers (a build-up of fat in the liver can cause liver disease). The mice were also found to have lower cholesterol as well.
Green Tea Limitations
The study used a concentrated amount of green tea for the mice. A person would have to drink at least 7 cups of green tea to equal the amount the mice consumed. Most experts say that to get the health boosting potential green tea has shown in laboratory tests, we would have to consume anywhere from 8 to 10 cups each day. And, while many of the studies have shown promising results, they are not completely conclusive.
Why Green Tea?
Green tea has a long history, beginning over 5,000 years ago in China and other parts of Asia. It comes from the plant Camellia sinensis, and is made by drying the leaves of the plant. Black and oolong tea are made from the same plant, but through a different processing method. Green tea is packed with antioxidants, approximately 10 times more antioxidants than the average fruit or vegetable, including various polyphenols, flavonoids and EGCG. It also contains caffeine, but much less caffeine than is in coffee. While 8 ounces of coffee contains around 95 milligrams of caffeine, 8 ounces of green tea has 30 to 50 mg. of caffeine. Green tea is available decaffeinated, and offers the same health benefits.
Should I Drink Green Tea?
There's no reason not to drink green tea. It's a healthy alternative to soda, juice and even coffee, although it may take some getting used to. Today green tea is available in many flavors if plain tea doesn't appeal to you. It has been shown that those who drink 2 or more cups of green tea each day are less likely to have heart disease, stroke and high cholesterol, but doctors aren't recommending using tea to treat or prevent these conditions.
Tea versus Lifestyle
It is easy to link tea consumption to numerous health benefits and leave it at that. However, we need to consider the possible link between the lifestyle of those who drink tea regularly. It may be that regular tea drinkers simply live a more health conscious life than non-tea drinkers. Plus, cultures that traditionally use tea such as China and Japan, while having lower rates of obesity and heart disease, are also known for their very healthy, vegetable-rich diet. By all means, include green tea into your diet. But be sure to substitute it for other beverages you may be consuming. You may not find any increase in weight loss while you drink green tea, but beginning a healthy habit might just help you stick to your weight loss goals.