Green tea is not only famous for its refreshing taste, it is also sought the world over for its health benefits. Green tea comes from the plant camellia sinensis, the same plant that black tea is derived from. The difference between the two teas is that green tea undergoes a minimal amount of oxidation compared to black tea when processing. Green tea’s leaves are withered and then steamed as opposed to black tea which is fermented. This processing causes compounds in the green tea which are called catechins, to be present in higher concentration. Catechins are antioxidants that eliminate free radicals that damage the body’s cells, the same kind of compound found in equally healthy berries, red wine, and dark chocolates.
Green tea catechins are also known as a cancer fighting ingredient. Although there is no conclusive research yet, studies suggest that drinking at least 2 cups of green tea a day can minimize the chance of getting cancer or it can help inhibit the growth of cancer. Studies have been conducted about the relationship between green tea consumption and the reduced risk of breast cancer, stomach cancer, prostate cancer, cancer of the esophagus, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer and lung cancer. Moreover, the consumption of green tea has been attributed to a lesser risk of heart disease. Doctors believe that this is because green tea acts as a vasodilator, which means that it dilates the arteries which lessen the risk of arterial clogging. "I think people should know these are important studies, that everyday foods that are an option may actually have health benefits," say cardiologist Nieca Goldberg. "I think green tea, because of its antioxidant value, may have heart benefits, but it's not something we regularly prescribe to people, because there isn't as much evidence as there is in exercise's ability to improve heart health."
Green tea has also been said to lower a person’s cholesterol levels. It does this by inhibiting its absorption into the digestive tract and hastening the process by which it is excreted. Green tea also purportedly is an anti-inflammatory agent which lowers painful incidents of rheumatoid arthritis. Green tea is also said to improve the immune system function and thus the prevention of illnesses and infections.
Green tea is also said to benefit those who want to lose weight. Some researchers suggest that the antioxidants in green tea breaks down triglycerides in the liver and the small intestines which is made up of mostly fat and sugar. It is also said to speed up a person’s metabolism, thus speeding up the process of weight loss. It is believed as well that the combination of the antioxidants and the tea’s natural caffeine content encourages the release of fat to the bloodstream to be used as energy.
All of these claims still need scientific verification but studies so far have been promising. Because of this, while doctors don’t particularly outright suggest drinking green tea, they say that there is no harm in making it a part of your daily habit.