Health Benefits of Green Tea

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Have you heard about the health benefits of drinking green tea? Green tea has been touted as beneficial to weight loss, cancer prevention and improved mood, but is it true? Green tea has been used for hundreds of years as a diuretic, to treat gas, regulate blood sugar and blood pressure and even to help stop bleeding. Other claimed health benefits include better digestion and a sharper mind. How does green tea help improve all these health issues? 
Green tea contains powerful antioxidants that help to prevent cell damage by free radicals. The most potent antioxidants in green tea are catechins. Free radicals attack and damage the DNA in cells. Damaged DNA can contribute to cancer and other serious illness. Studies have shown that green tea antioxidants inhibit the growth of cancer cells in a test tube, but human studies are inconclusive. The catechin epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is especially high in green tea. EGCG and other tea catechins have helped to reduce cancer growth in laboratory animals. It’s not clear how catechins inhibit the growth of cancer cells, but the they do and it can’t hurt to add some green tea to your diet to help cleanse your body of free radicals. 
Drinking green tea as part of a weight loss diet can improve weight loss. Green tea helps to boost your metabolism, which results in burning more calories. Green tea also helps weight loss by lowering LDL cholesterol, or the bad cholesterol. High LDL cholesterol can lead to other health problems including heart disease, plaque buildup in arteries and high blood pressure. Drinking green tea also helps to regulate blood sugar levels and blood pressure
Green tea’s health benefits are numerous. If you don’t like tea or have never tried it, try replacing one cup of coffee with a cup of green tea every day. Soon you will be enjoying not only the health benefits, but also the flavor of this ancient health-boosting drink.

For more information about the health benefits and cancer-fighting properties of green tea see:

Natural Sources of Antioxidants

Photo Credit: Dimitar Nikolov CC-BY-2.0 2012

Waste products produced by cells include unstable molecules called “free radicals,” which can cause cell damage. Free radicals are produced when the body breaks down food and from exposure to environmental contaminants, such as tobacco smoke and pesticides. Antioxidants help remove free radicals from the cells. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidant nutrients. Antioxidants are also found in nuts, beans and whole grains. Vitamins C and E are also antioxidants. Other nutrients that help remove free radicals from the body include  anthocyanins, beta-carotene, catechins, coenzyme Q10, flavonoids, lipoic acid, lutein, lycopene and  selenium. People who eat a balanced diet that includes antioxidant rich foods should get enough of the nutrients to help prevent cell damage from free radicals. Eat a diet rich in vitamins A, C and E to be sure you get enough antioxidant nutrients. 
The best sources of natural antioxidants are berries. Blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, strawberries and blueberries are high in antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals. Red beans, black beans and pinto beans are abundant in fiber, plant proteins and antioxidants. Avocados, cherries and plums are also a good source of free radical fighting nutrients. The skin of apples and pears contains many nutrients and antioxidants. Wash apples and pears thoroughly to remove pesticide residue and eat the fruit with the skin for maximum nutritional benefit. 

Vegetables are also a good source of antioxidant nutrients and vitamins. Broccoli, artichokes, spinach and red potatoes are rich in nutrients to help fight cell damage, as are sweet potatoes and red cabbage. Be careful not to over-cook vegetables. Cooking may break down natural antioxidant nutrients and lessen their effectiveness at removing free radicals from your body. Steamed, grilled and sauteed vegetables are not only delicious, but nutritious. Raw vegetables in salads is an excellent way to get your vegetable nutrition.  

Spices and herbs, such as ground cloves, cinnamon and ginger, dried oregano leaf and turmeric powder are all good sources of natural antioxidants. Green tea, coffee, red wine and pomegranate juice have high levels of antioxidants. 
For more information about antioxidant supplements, see:

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Antioxidant Supplements for Health: An Introduction