Have you ever wondered what the difference is between white, green and black tea? All teas are made from the leaves of theCamellia sinensis plant. It all comes down to when the leaves are picked and how they are processed.
White tea is made from leaves and buds harvested at a young age that are not allowed to oxidize (fancy word for when something is exposed to oxygen; it is the same process that turns apple flesh brown). To make green tea, the leaves are allowed to oxidize very slightly before stopping the process by steaming or pan-frying. Black tea is fully oxidized, which give it its rich black color. While all teas have health benefits, the more oxidation the leaves undergo, the more caffeine and the less antioxidants they contain.
Products like herbal and rooibos teas, while often very healthy in their own right, do not actually contain any leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant and are not technically tea.
Tea is so good for you because of its compounds called polyphenols, a type of antioxidant. One of its main polyphenols is something called epigallocatechin-3-gallate, commonly referred to as EGCG. Because white and green teas undergo minimal processing, many of these polyphenols are retained, making both an excellent choice. In fact, some studies show that white tea may just be the best of all. However, its relative rarity and high cost make it a difficult option for many. Green tea, on the other hand, is widely available and relatively inexpensive.
GREEN TEA FOR CANCER PREVENTION
The effects of green tea on our health, and on cancer prevention in particular, has been widely studied. And while the studies to date regarding the effects of green tea on cancer have been inconclusive or conflicting, some laboratory and animal studies have shown that EGCG and other polyphenols in green tea may prevent cancer from forming, and may limit the growth and migration of breast cancer cells.1 Other studies have shown women who drink the most green tea have a lower risk of breast cancer than those who drink the least two.
Plus, overall breast cancer rates are lower in countries such as Japan where people drink green tea regularly (although there are likely additional dietary factors at play here).
GREEN TEA FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Green tea has also been shown to help you lose weight. A 2005 Japanese study found that body weight, BMI, waist circumference, body fat mass and subcutaneous fat area were significantly lower in the group that drank green tea extract than in the control group. Study participants consumed 690 mg catechins per day (the equivalent of about 4-5 cups of green tea) for 12 weeks.
Another reason green tea can help blast fat is that it contains caffeine, a stimulant that can improve performance during your workouts, allowing your to burn more calories.
There is no reason to be concerned about the caffeine in green tea.
The amount of caffeine in green tea small, tiny really – about 35 mg compared to 100 to 200 mg in a cup of home-brewed coffee. Coffeehouse brews have even more caffeine, often exceeding 300 mg per cup.
And while you don’t want to overdo caffeine, moderate amounts are not going to hurt you and may be beneficial according to many studies. Not only that, the caffeine in green tea is believed to work in synergy with the EGCG, amplifying its benefits. Last, the caffeine in green tea has the added bonus of making you feel alert but not jittery.
Aside from its breast cancer and fat fighting effects, green tea has been shown to reduce the risk of certain other types of cancer as well as lower blood pressure and total cholesterol. It’s also known to raise good cholesterol and control blood sugar levels.
GET THE MOST FROM YOUR TEA
The recommended amount of green tea to drink is three to four cups a day. If that seems unrealistic, consider supplementing what you drink with a high-quality green tea extract. A 2004 study showed that absorption of some of the beneficial compounds in tea are enhanced when taken in a capsule supplement form.4
To get the most nutrients from your tea, add a squeeze of lemon. The vitamin C in a small amount of lemon juice will help your body absorb over five times more of the tea’s antioxidants. And ditch both the milk and soymilk. The proteins in both can bind to the antioxidants in tea and neutralize them.
Willing to “green light” some green tea? Then choose quality ingredients. Use this guide to for safe drinking:
Sit back, relax, and enjoy a cup of organic green tea.
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