For many years now I have been a fan of green tea. Not just for the proven health benefits but also for the lovely taste. Long gone are the days of bitter tasting green tea, now with quality tea leaves and proper brewing I thoroughly enjoy the earthy, grassy taste of my morning cuppa.
It wasn't all that long ago that the only type of tea available in most cafes was your bog standard regular black tea, but in recent years green tea has become much more fashionable and readily available. Perhaps this is as a result of the plethora of coffee shops that now flood our high streets realising they need to offer the non-coffee drinkers something new and healthy. Equally the increase in availability of green tea may have come from our increased knowledge and awareness of healthy foods and drinks and the desire of many of us to feel and look our healthiest possible.
What does green tea offer that other teas do not?
The benefits of drinking green tea are well documented. Green tea is rich in polyphenols, most notably EGCG which has antioxidant properties, so has been an area of great interest for nutrition research. Green tea has been found to potentially reduce the risk of getting cancer, Alzheimer's and suffering a stroke, as well as helping to protect our lungs and preserve bone density. However, before heading off to the kitchen to brew up a cup of green tea, be aware that typically the research on green tea has been done using extracts of green tea leaves, in concentrated doses, not on a cup or two a day of green tea bags steeped in boiling water for a minute or two.
As good for our brains as our bodies?
Green tea is also an excellent source of the amino acid L-theanine, which has been shown to increase low levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and GABA, improving attention and memory and supporting anxiety. Great that a cup of green tea can help improve brain function whilst calming anxiety.
How best to prepare a healthy cup of green tea?
Yes, you could add boiling hot water to a green tea bag but research suggests that to maximise antioxidant properties of green tea it needs to be treated gently by steeping in cooler water for as long as possible. So iced green tea could be the way to go this summer!
And if you do not drink tea for whatever reason, or simply want an extra hit of antioxidants without upping your daily cuppa intake, then green tea extract could be the way to go. It is readily available from reputable nutritional supplementation companies such as Nutri Advanced and Biocare, in a variety of well researched formulations.
To find out more about the nutrition benefits of green tea and how it may help you, or for more information about nutritional therapy please contact me.
1. Chacko, Thambi, Kuttan, Nishigaki (2010) Beneficial effects of green tea: A literature review, Chinese Medicine, 5: 13.
2. Yuan, J.-M. (2011), Green tea and prevention of esophageal and lung cancers. Mol. Nutr. Food Res., 55: 886–904.
3. Shen, Yeh, Cao, Wang (2009) Green tea and bone metabolism, Nutrition Research. 29: 437-456.
4. Nathan P, Lu K, Gray M, Oliver C (2006) The Neuropharmacology of L-theanine: A possible neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing agent, Journal of Herbal Pharmacatherapy. 6: 21-30.
5. Hajiaghaalipour F, Sanusi J, Kanthimathi MS (2016) Temperature and Time of Steeping Affect the Antioxidant Properties of White, Green, and Black Tea Infusions, Journal of Food Science. 81: H246-H254.
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Helen Morton, registered Nutritional Therapist. sports nutritionist, runner and food lover, sharing latest nutrition research and recipes.