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Drink more (green!) tea

Updated: Oct 14, 2022

Have you tried green tea? Green tea is becoming an increasingly popular drink and more widely consumed in the western world. It’s pale green in colour and commonly described as having an ‘earthy’ or ‘grassy’ taste.

It is commonly a drink that I recommend to clients especially as an alternative to coffee and has an impressive array of health benefits!

Green tea originated in China over 5000 years ago. It is produced from the tea plant (Camellia sinesis). The type of tea produced green, white, black or oolong is determined by how the tea leaves are processed, specifically the drying and fermentation processes.

Green tea is produced from mature tea leaves which are then quickly dried or steamed to prevent oxidation. Black tea (such as English breakfast tea) is allowed to fully oxidise leaving a dark tea leaf.

One benefit of green tea is that it contains less caffeine than both black tea and coffee. A typical cup of green tea contains around 30mg of caffeine compared to around 95mg of caffeine in an average cup of coffee.

Another benefit of green tea is it is rich in antioxidant compounds called catechins. These are supportive of our immune system; recent research has shown that the catechins in green tea are effective against a number of viruses, parasites and fungi. The anti-bacterial effect starts to have an effect in the mouth, green tea can even improve bad breath by having an antimicrobial action against most oral bacteria!

Drinking green tea may even boost your mood! A recent large study has found that frequent green tea consumption is associated with a lower risk of depression. In this study participants who consumed four cups of green tea per day demonstrated the greatest reduction in depressive symptoms, but even drinking one cup a day was found to have anti-depressant properties.

This effect may be due to an amino acid present in green tea called L-theanine. This amino acid can cross the blood-brain barrier and then exerts anti-stress effects by increasing dopamine and serotonin concentrations (these are neurotransmitters important in happy mood states). Interestingly, L-theanine also works to modulate the effects of caffeine in the tea which reduces its stimulatory action.

Another important benefit is that drinking green tea may support weight loss by increasing metabolic rate. One study demonstrated that participants who are frequent green tea drinkers are on average a lower weight than non-green tea drinkers.

The higher quality green tea you can buy the better. This is because the lower quality green teas (generally the cheaper brands) can contain high level of a chemical called fluoride. Fluoride can displace iodine, an important nutrient required for thyroid health. The lower quality green teas are often made from fallen and older tea leaves which have more fluoride than the younger tea leaves.

Try swapping your daily coffee for green tea and feel the health benefits!

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