What are the health benefits of green tea? Know its pros and cons

Green tea plantation

Green tea is the preferred choice of people who are either watching their weight or just prefer to lead a healthy lifestyle. Known for being one of the least processed types of tea, it comes from the unfermented leaves of the Camellia sinensis bush. It is pale in colour and has a slightly bitter flavour. Rich in antioxidants, green tea may help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and be good for your skin health. Read on to know the health benefits of green tea along with its side effects.

Nutritional value of green tea

According to the US Department of Agriculture, 100 grams of green tea has the following nutrients –

  • Water: 99.9 g
  • Energy: 1 kcal
  • Energy: 4 kJ
  • Protein: 0.22 g
  • Thiamin: 0.007 mg
  • Riboflavin: 0.058 mg
  • Niacin: 0.03 mg
  • Vitamin B-6: 0.005 mg
  • Caffeine: 12 mg
Green tea has antioxidants. Image courtesy: Freepik

What are the health benefits of green tea?

Drinking green tea is good for your health due to the following reasons:

1. Rich in antioxidants

Green tea has polyphenols like catechins, which fight cellular damage caused by free radicals, says clinical nutritionist Shabana Parveen. This helps in maintaining overall gold health.

2. Improved brain function

The caffeine and amino acid L-theanine in green tea can enhance brain function, improving mood, vigilance, reaction time, and memory. Green tea may also reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, aa per a 2019 research published in the Nutrients journal.

3. Weight loss aid

Green tea has no carbohydrate or sugars that may lead to weight gain. In fact, it may boost metabolism and help in fat burning, making it a great option for weight management, says the expert.

4. Heart health

Regular consumption of green tea may lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. A 2008 study published in the Current Medicinal Chemistry journal found that catechins may be the components in green tea that have protective effects when it comes to cardiovascular health.

5. Lower risk of type 2 diabetes

This type of tea can help in improving insulin sensitivity and drop down blood sugar levels. This can help in decreasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, says Parveen.

6. Oral health

The catechins in green tea help in inhibiting the growth of bacteria, which can be blamed for various dental problems like tooth decay. Having green tea can reduce the risk of infections and improve dental health.

7. Cancer prevention

A 2006 research published in the Carcinogenesis journal indicated that there is an association between green tea consumption and a lower risk for breast cancer. Antioxidants in green tea may provide protection against different types of cancer by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and reducing the spread of tumours.

8. Skin health

Green tea’s antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties can help in
promoting healthier skin. They can prevent skin ageing, acne, and inflammation, says the expert.

9. Improved digestive health

Compounds in green tea may help in alleviating digestive issues. So, if you have issues such as bloating, constipation, and inflammatory bowel diseases, have green tea.

10. Stress reduction

The combination of L-theanine and caffeine can have a calming effect on you. It may help in reducing stress and promoting relaxation, says the expert. So, drink it when it gets too stressful in life!

How much green tea should you have in a day?

The ideal amount of green tea varies depending on certain factors like individual tolerance to caffeine, overall health, and specific health goals. Typically, consuming 2 to 3 cups per day provides a moderate dose of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds without excessive caffeine intake, says Parveen. Having more than that, may lead to adverse effects like insomnia or increased heart rate for some people.

A cup of green tea with mint leaves
Drink green tea in moderation. Image courtesy: Freepik

Best time to drink green tea

The best time to drink green tea depends on personal preferences and health goals. However, many people find that consuming green tea in the morning or before meals provides best benefits. In the morning, green tea can help in kickstarting metabolism and provide a natural energy boost because of its moderate caffeine content. Drinking it before meals may improve digestion and help in controlling appetite, promoting weight management. You can enjoy green tea in the afternoon, as it can offer a calming effect, reducing stress and enhancing focus.

What are the side effects of green tea?

Green tea offers various health benefits, but its excessive consumption or sensitivity to its components can cause certain side effects. These include –

  • Caffeine-related issues like insomnia, jitteriness, and increased heart rate.
  • Some individuals may also experience stomach discomfort, acid reflux, or nausea due to the tannins and caffeine in green tea.
  • Green tea can interfere with iron absorption, potentially effecting individuals with iron deficiency anemia.
  • Excessive caffeine intake may trigger headaches in sensitive individuals.
  • It may impair calcium absorption, affecting bone health.
  • Pregnant women should be cautious because of the high caffeine levels in green tea, as it can pose risks during pregnancy.

Drinking green tea can be good for your heart and skin health, and help kn managing weight. But make sure to have it in moderation, especially because of its caffeine content that can have side effects.

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