Is Green Tea Really Good For You?

March, 17, 2020You've probably heard some health guru or read an article touting the great benefits of drinking tea, particularly green tea.  You may have asked yourself is it really that easy? Drink green tea and live to 100?  While good habits like eating healthy foods, exercising and resting well are important factors for a better quality of life, all the buzz around green tea makes it a worthwhile factor to consider in our strive to live longer and stronger lives.

 

HISTORY OF (GREEN) TEA

The Divine Farmer’s Herb-Root Classic, supposedly written by Shennong, a chinese mythical figure, is considered to contain one of the earliest references to teas.  According to legend, Shennong, circa 2700 B.C., experimented with the medicinal properties of various herbs, particularly green tea leaves.

In the 1200’s loose leaf green tea had become the most popular form of tea in China. Buddhist monks popularized green tea after learning that its caffeine properties kept them awake during long meditation periods.

The Dutch East India Company, in the early 1600’s, brought the first green tea leaves to Amsterdam from China.  Around the same period, green tea saw a rise in popularity in other parts of Europe and Russia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_tea.

Tea made its debut in the United States during the mid 1600’s. Consumption later spiked largely influenced by the passage of the Tea Act and the subsequent American Revolution. However, because of politics it quickly became an unpopular drink and not until the 1990's did it see a rise in popularity. 

JAPAN’S HIGH LONGEVITY RATE AND GREEN TEA

According to the World Bank, the Japanese life expectancy is the world's highest, at 87.32 years for women and 81.25 years for men,  In fact, it seems that Japanese men and women are living even longer today.  In 2019, the number of Japanese aged 90 reached 2.31 million, including over 71,000 centenarians. In contrast, the average life expectancy in the United States is around 78, and 81 for Britain and Canada.  

One of the significant contributing factors to this protracted lifespan, many claim, is the higher consumption of tea in Japan, particularly green tea. In Japan, 70 - 80% of people drink green tea on a daily basis, and about 90% drink it at least twice or more a week. In fact, as people get older, more people prefer to drink green tea, with almost 95% of those 50 years or older drinking green tea daily. Women also drink more tea than men on average. 

So is there a real connection between green tea and a longer life?  Many studies seem to indicate that there is a strong and definitive nexus.

Even taking into account for factors such as the differences in diet, exercise habits, smoking and education level, among other factors, between tea drinkers and non-tea drinkers, many studies have been able to establish many health benefits of consuming green tea.

GOOD FOR THE HEART

In a study of over 100,000 Chinese adults, researchers were able to establish a link between the consumption of green tea and lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol, and found that those who drank green tea at least three times a week were less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke.

 A similar study in Japan of more than 40,000 people found that drinking five or more cups of green tea a day resulted in a death rate of 16% lower than those who drank just one cup, concluding that “Green tea consumption is associated with reduced mortality due to all causes and due to cardiovascular disease…”  The same study found further links in green tea consumption and the reduction of mortality rates due to cancer and other diseases.

SO WHAT’S IN GREEN TEA THAT MAKES IT SUCH A GAME CHANGER?

For one, tea is rich in polyphenols, which are natural compounds that have health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and helping to fight cancer.

While many healthy properties are contributed to green tea, such as weight loss and increased fat loss, as well as the ability to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels, what scientists confirm is that it is full of a catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate or EGCG. EGCG is considered a powerful natural antioxidant chemopreventive that helps prevent cell damage and provide other benefits.  Besides cancer and cardiovascular disease, cell damage can also lead to other conditions such as neurological disorders like stroke, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

SUMMARY

Recent research has found a viable link between drinking tea and a longer and healthier life. While some scientists may dispute the nexus, there is indisputable proof that green tea contains potential live saving compounds.