Hardly a month goes by without some newly discovered green tea benefits appearing in the headlines.
"Green tea prevents prostate". Green tea fights arthritis". "Green tea boosts detox enzymes". The list goes on and on...
What is the magic green tea ingredient that makes all these wonderful medical cures possible? Green tea antioxidants.
Here are seven reasons why they are so powerful.
1. Fight Free Radicals
Every moment, the body absorbs oxygen and turns it into energy in a process called oxidation. This process releases free radicals.
They are usually mopped up by antioxidants before they can hurt us. As we age, however, this process becomes more inefficient.
Highly reactive, these harmful molecules travel around our body. They damage cells and DNA, causing aging, heart disease, strokes and cancers.
See those wrinkles and thinning skin that we see more and more of every day? It is the damage done by free radicals.
Antioxidants slow down aging by neutralizing these free radicals. They perform healing at the deepest cellular level, allowing the benefits to manifest in a myriad of different ways.
2. Highest Flavonoids Content
A 2007 report published by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) compares nearly 400 foods for their flavonoids content.Green tea contains a simple form of flavonoid known as catechins (flavan-3-ols). Dried green tea extract can contain 30% to 40% of catechins.
Now, 30% to 40% is A LOT. It is the reason why green tea ranks among plants with the highest total flavonoid content.
Just 1 gram of green tea leaves contains 127 milligrams of catechins.
Dark chocolate comes a distant second. 100 grams of dark chocolate from the Netherlands contains only 54 milligrams of catechins.
When comparing the antioxidant capacity of foods and beverages, people often forget that just 3 grams of dried leaves brew 1 cup of tea.
Fruits such as pomegranate may contain as much as or more antioxidants than a cup of green tea. But gram for gram and dollar for dollar, none of them packs as much punch.
Now you see why green tea is the most consumed beverage after water? Drink green tea is the most enjoyable and cost effective way to detoxification.
4. Equivalent to 8 Apples Minerals
A study published by the HNRCA of Tufts University in United States illustrates how plentiful catechins are.
They found that catechins are not as easily absorbed as vitamin C. But their abundant quantities more than compensate the difference.
One cup of green tea contains 200 milligrams of catechins, which equals 8 apples.
If only grandma knew about this when she asked me to munch those apples!
5. Synergistic Effect
Green tea not only contains large amount of catechins, it also has a host of other chemicals that facilitate its antioxidant activities. According to Cabrera, green tea contains gallic acid, a powerful antioxidant in its own right.
It also contains carotenoids, tocopherols, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and minerals such as chromium, manganese, selenium, zinc and certain phytochemical compounds.
It is believed that these compounds add to the antioxidant potential of green tea. That's why drinking green tea is preferable to swallowing supplement tablets.
You are not just getting catechins. You are getting a lot more.
6. Highly Potent
The 1996 study conducted by Cao found that green tea exhibits much higher antioxidant activities against peroxyl radicals than vegetable such as garlic, kale, spinach and Brussels sprouts.
About half of catechins are EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate). Available in the highest concentration in green tea, EGCG is the most active and best researched of catechins.
Green tea, which is water soluble, has another advantage over vitamin E. If you drink too much green tea, it is simply excreted by your body. But if you consume too much vitamin E, it is retained in your body fats at potentially harmful levels.
EGCG also tops other antioxidants such as butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT).
7. Proven Absorption of Antioxidants
A team of researchers in Italy has provided the clearest evidence yet that green tea antioxidants are absorbed by the human body after consumption.
The team set out to determine how much green tea antioxidants stay in the body after being consumed.
The green tea consists of tea leaves, sugar, dextrose, lemon juice, ascorbic acid and flavoring. They discovered that EGCG was the only un-metabolized tea compound and the highest in absolute concentration.
8. Better Than Black Tea
A 2003 study conducted by Kenichi Yanagimoto compares green tea, oolong tea and black tea for their antioxidant activities.
He found green tea to be the most potent antioxidant, followed by oolong tea, then black tea.
Green tea blocked oxidation by almost 100% over 40 days.
Oolong tea blocked oxidation by 50% over 15 days.
Black tea showed only slight antioxidant activities.
Another 2000 study conducted by Langley-Evans reported similar results. He showed that the total antioxidant capacity of green tea is more potent than that of black tea.
According to Cabrera, you only need to consume a few cups of green tea each day to get the benefit.
Many human studies showed that drinking 1 to 6 cups a day results in a significant increase in plasma antioxidant capacity, with initial indications of reduced DNA and lipids damage.
Similar results were reported by a 1999 study conducted by Kraunig. The study consisted of 40 males smokers in China and 27 men and women (smokers and non smokers) in the United States.
He observed that oxidative DNA damage, lipid peroxidation and free radicals generation were reduced after consuming about 6 cups a day for a week.