Green tea is the most widely consumed beverage worldwide, second only to water.
Green tea has proven health benefits including reduction of many cardiovascular disease risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension and elevated cholesterol. It helps prevent the oxidation of LDL (lousy) cholesterol, which is what makes it ‘sticky’ and adherent to the arterial walls. It has known cancer preventive properties. It even has a thermogenic (calorie burning) effect.
Most of its health benefits come from its rich content of flavonols and catechins such as EGCG, with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains the amino acid theanine, which helps to reduce anxiety without drowsiness-that’s why we reach for the tea when we want to de-stress.
Here’s the glitch
Most of the studies indicate that we need to drink anywhere from 10-70 cups/week, which is not very practical.
The reason we need such high doses to create a therapeutic effect is that when consumed as a beverage, relatively few of its active chemicals are absorbed into the bloodstream.
In a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was proven that green tea supplements were superior with regards to absorption of the healthy catechins compared to drinking the same amounts as tea.
Additionally, when complexed in supplements with phosphatidylcholine, which is the form I recommend to my patients, peak blood concentrations of EGCG over 6 hours doubled.
Don’t throw away the tea bags: I still advocate having a few cups/day, steeped for 3-5 minutes to bring out its catechins, freshly brewed. The bottled sources have less of these health-promoting compounds. The fewer minerals in your water, the better the absorption.
Caffeine content in green tea vs. coffee vs. black tea:
8 oz. brewed coffee: 95-200mg
16 oz. Starbucks latte: 150 mg
8 oz. instant coffee: 27-173 mg
1 oz. expresso: 40-76 mg
8 oz. black tea: 14-61 mg
8 oz. green tea: 24-40mg
Also, teas can reduce absorption of iron, so if you are anemic or low in iron stores, have your tea at least 2 hours apart from meals.