Health Benefits of Green Tea
Whoever would have thought that a humble cup of green tea can provide protection to the body against heart disease, cancer & many other ailments?
Green tea protects the heart: Surprising, as it may seem, drinking tea (especially green tea) protects your arteries by reducing blood- clotting factors. The ‘catechins’ in tea help by blocking the clumping of platelets and keeping the blood thin. Research done on the effects of tea and heart- attack victims shows that both the common black tea as well as the green tea helps in reducing blood platelet aggregation thereby reducing the risk of cardio vascular disease.
There are about 3000 varieties of tea in the world. Out of these it is the variety called ‘camellia Sinesis’ that is mainly consumed. When the leaves of this plant are simply picked and dried without fermentation it is called ‘green tea’. This contains more ‘catechins’ and polyphenols and bioflavonoids than the fermented variety of the same plant. When this plant ‘Camellia Sinesis’ is semi-fermented you get oolong tea, which is a stage between green tea and black tea. Further fermentation leads to the making of black tea, which is commonly consumed.
Black tea contains 3-10% catechins, while oolong tea & green tea contains 8-20% & 30-42% respectively. It is these catechins that give tea its heart protecting and blood thinning properties. The polyphenols in green tea prevent oxidation of the bad LDL cholesterol. This stops progress of arteriosclerosis. Polyphenols in green tea also help to lower triglycerides levels in the blood.
Green tea and cancer: The antioxidants existing in green tea also help to thwart cancer cell proliferation. The low rate of cancer amongst the Japanese population where green tea is heavily grown & consumed suggests a strong link between green tea & cancer. The catechins found in green tea also help to block breast cancer in animals. Green tea also provides a protection against skin cancer. There have been innumerable tests and studies done which prove the cancer blocking effects of tea on almost every type of cancer.
Green tea and barbequed food: Now, this might seem like bad news but when you barbeque the chicken or any meat on a high flame or fry it at high temperatures, HCA’s (heterocyclic amines) are formed during the cooking, especially during the charring process. These HCA’s are known to be carcinogenic. Here’s where green tea comes into play. A cup of tea taken along with Tandoori chicken or charred mutton chops helps to neutralize these HCA’s by almost 85% thus nipping carcinogenic activity at the bud.
Health benefits of green tea: Green tea is a longevity drink. It protects against cancer, lowers cholesterol, reduces clotting tendency of the blood & prevents heart disease. It helps to protect the liver and the brain from oxidized fatty acids. It exhibits antibacterial and antiviral activity.
In order to get its health benefits one must incorporate it in your daily diet. In order to make green tea you can put the leaves in boiling water and let the goodness seep into the water for 2-3 minutes. Then you can strain, add a teaspoon of honey (if required) and enjoy a hot cup health in the morning & in the evening. If you like some milk you could add a couple of tablespoons of warm low fat milk to the tea. Tea seems to be an extraordinary drink. It can boost your chances of preventing major degenerative diseases and reach old age in good shape. Although the Asian type green tea contains more antioxidant punch than the oolong tea & black tea, the later seem to be just about as effective at defusing free radical activity and delaying the aging process. Antioxidants seem to be present all around us e.g. in fruits in vegetables and from unexpected sources as in green tea. We just need to know about them and use them correctly.
ANJALI MUKERJEE, Nutritionist, Founder Director-Health Total, having health centres in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune.
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