Sunday, April 4, 2010

Get Your Green Tea On!

Provided we don’t drink too much of it, teas provide a number of health benefits. They have been known to combat the flu, prevent tooth decay, lower heart disease risk, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of cancer. Green tea is one of the most healthful teas due to it myriad of therapeutic properties. This little miracle of health was first discovered by a Chinese emperor in 2700 B.C. Traditionally, it was drank as a fasting tea to give its drinker mental clarity and energy during a cleanse. While it is indeed a stimulant, the amount of caffeine in green tea is minimal. If you are worried about caffeine, the decaffeinated version is just as beneficial because it retains its tannins and other flavonoids. Flavonoids are antioxidants that have the ability to hinder cancer-causing substances such as nitrosamines found in smoked food and the residues of nitrate fertilizers. They also have anti-allergen activities as well. Green tea also contains powerful polyphenols that acts as antioxidants, yet do not interfere with iron and protein absorption. A stimulant of thought and conversation, green tea should be taken daily throughout one’s lifetime for optimal health. While it can be taken in capsule form, one or two cups of green tea every day can have an altogether calming and meditative effect, useful in lowering stress levels.

1) Green tea for heart health:

Recent research suggests that antioxidants in green tea play a role in reducing the negative effects of bad cholesterol, lowering triglyceride levels and increasing the production of good cholesterol. They have also been shown to inhibit excessive blood clotting which may help against heart diseases and stroke. Further evidence has suggested that green tea plays a role in prevention of age-related and brain degeneration diseases, such as Parkinson and Alzheimer’s. Its antioxidant properties are thought to reduce free radical damage and the breakdown of neurotransmitters.

2) Green tea for immunity

It has antibiotic properties and even has the ability to combat antibiotic-resistant microorganisms. The tea can also lower iron levels in the body, having a direct anti-viral effect on abnormal types of hepatitis viruses. There is also evidence from some studies that green tea provides significant immunoprotective qualities, particularly in the case of cancer patients undergoing radiation or chemotherapy. White blood cell count appears to be maintained more effectively in cancer patients consuming green tea compared to patients who do not drink the soothing beverage.

3) Green tea for cancer prevention

Green tea’s rich supply of antioxidants may also play a key role in the prevention of various cancers, like breast, colon, stomach, and lung cancer. They suppress the formation and growth of potent cancer-causing agents. While the potential anti-cancer properties of green tea look promising, they are also complex and not yet completely understood. Catechins, which are tannins found in green tea, have been shown to have anti-tumor effects.\ Studies in Japan has shown that several cups of green tea on a day are effective in reducing lung cancer death rates, while other studies indicate the same success with liver and stomach cancers.

4) Green Tea for digestion and detoxification

The Chinese regard green tea as a stimulant , and astringent for clearing phlegm and a digestive remedy. Because of the tannins in green tea, it is useful for diarrhea. During detoxification, the polyphenols found in green tea are astoundingly efficient at lessening the production of uremic toxicity to protect the kidneys.

5) Green Tea for weight loss

Because it boosts enzyme activity in the body and is fully enzyme-active it helps the body cleanse itself and lose weight, while increasing metabolism. Polyphenols have also been known to help the body burn fat because they work with other chemicals to intensify levels of fat oxidation and thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is when heat is created in the body by burning fuels such as fat. A study in Switzerland found that drinking 2-3 cups of green tea daily caused the participants to burn eighty extra calories each day without increasing their heart rates.

6) Green tea to prevent tooth decay

Studies suggest that chemical in green tea can destroy bacteria that cause tooth decay and other dental conditions. Try natural toothpastes, dental floss and mouth washes that contain green tea.

Green Tea’s Other Uses

Green tea can also be used as a natural beauty product. When applied directly to the skin, green tea has the ability to clear blemishes and other skin problems. Its leaves can act as an excellent exfoliant to the skin while the concentrated version calms and cools the face. Try mixing one tablespoon of green tea leaves to three tablespoons mayonnaise for a detoxifying facial mask. In addition to drinking green tea, try adding it to breads, fruit compotes and sorbets

Serving and Storing Green Tea

Green tea can be served hot or cold and still provide a host of health benefits. While sugar and lemon are not thought to alter the antioxidant content, milk may bind to the antioxidants and make them unavailable to the body. To brew a potent cup of green tea, make sure to steep the tea bag for at least 3 minutes. Otherwise, all of the antioxidants may not end up in the tea. If you’re concerned about caffeine, a 6-ounce cup of green tea contains approximately 30 mg. That’s much lower than coffee, which has about 100 mg per cup. Buy tea leaves in small quantities and store in an airtight container in a dark, cool place.

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