What drink do you reach for to quench your thirst, complement a meal, or keep yourself hydrated throughout the day? Is it coffee or soda? Or maybe you enjoy drinking sparkling water, juice, or plain old H2O.
If you don’t have green tea in regular rotation, you’re missing out on a handful of surprising health benefits.
Since it’s become an iconic health drink in recent years, you might already know that it’s loaded with healthy antioxidants and disease-fighting compounds. From protecting against cancer to extending your life expectancy, green tea packs a real punch.
But green tea can do even more than protect against heavy hitters like cancer. It has a wide range of unexpected positive benefits, making it one of the most versatile (and cost-effective) health drinks available. In a wellness world brimming with exotic potions and expensive supplements, having the humble green tea in your toolkit goes a long way.
Plus, green tea isn’t just great for you — depending on how you prepare it, it can be outright delicious. Matcha and iced lattes are two tasty drinks that really show green tea’s range. Read on for five surprising benefits of green tea and how it benefits your body.
What’s in Green Tea?
It can be hard to separate fact from fiction when it comes to wellness trends, but green tea doesn’t disappoint. We can look to both cultures — the Japanese are known to be some of the healthiest people on the planet, and green tea is a staple there — and to dietary science.
The active ingredients in green tea include plant compounds called cachetins, a type of polyphenol or plant compound. These catechins have potent antioxidant activity and can also bind to certain proteins and enzymes, thereby influencing our body systems. Another interesting component of green tea is L-theanine, an amino acid that’s known to reduce stress and promote a calm, yet alert state.
If you want to know more about how green tea works, check out these resources. For now, let’s get into how it can help you, so you can start benefiting from green tea today!
#1) It Can Give You Calm, Sustained Energy
If you love the focus that comes with drinking coffee, but you struggle with getting jittery and anxious, we’ve got good news for you.
Green tea hits a sweet spot when it comes to caffeine content. There’s enough to keep you focused but not so much that you get wired and can’t sleep at night.
How much caffeine is green tea? It’s about 30 – 50 mg per serving. That’s much less than coffee, which has around 95 mg per serving.
Let’s dive a bit further into the compound we mentioned above: L-theanine. One study showed that when caffeine and L-theanine combine, they have a synergistic effect that is powerful for brain function. We don’t know about you, but being focused and calm seems like a better way to get work done, and if that combination can actually boost performance? That’s a winner.
The next time you have a big project to tackle, try green tea instead of coffee. Not only is it nice to switch things up, but you may find you have a more stable, consistent, and calm sense of energy.
#2) It Protects You from Cognitive Decline
It’s always best to look at the long game when it comes to your well-being, and this is particularly true when it comes to our brain. For most of us, clear thinking and a good memory are among the most important aspects of our overall wellness. But stressful, busy lifestyles — on top of the aging process — can chip away at our cognitive health.
The good news is that green tea may help you maintain healthy cognitive function, and the research is promising. One study demonstrated how drinking green tea daily lowers the risk for cognitive impairment, while another showed that green tea extract enhances working memory.
Of course, you want to do much more than drink green tea to protect your brain. It’s always best to take a multi-faceted approach, such as tending to your gut microbiome and following an anti-inflammatory diet. But the research is compelling enough to include green tea as one tool in your toolbox for living a healthy, happy life.
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#3) Green Tea Is Good for Your Skin
We feel more confident about ourselves when we look good — taking care of how you look can have real benefits for your confidence, self-esteem, and ability to thrive in all areas of your life. Don’t dismiss your physical appearance — whether it’s building muscle, dressing nicely, or grooming yourself — when it comes to your well-being.
So what are green tea’s benefits for the skin? Thanks to its antioxidants and catechins, it can help with anti-aging along with protection from environmental stressors. The polyphenols in green tea can scavenge free radicals caused by pollution and UV radiation. It can also help with DNA repair and even help prevent skin cancer.
All of these incredible skin benefits make it a top choice for supporting well-being on all levels.
#4: It Can Help with Weight Loss
When researching if green tea can help with weight loss, the evidence was surprising. One study found that both the catechins and caffeine in green tea help support energy metabolism, which can lead to weight loss. Another found that the synergistic effect of catechins and caffeine is what drives weight loss for tea drinks.
While the significance of its weight loss effects isn’t clear yet, green tea has so many other health benefits that it’s worth giving it a shot. Plus, drinking green tea instead of sugary drinks — which are most drinks on the market — is going to help you lose weight anyway.
Just remember to drink it fresh if you’re using it to help you control your weight.
Bottled green tea from the store is likely to have all sorts of sugary additives. If you’re wondering what is the best green tea for weight loss, look for green tea weight-loss blends from reputable companies. They’ll often include other herbs like dandelion or chickweed, which flush out excess water weight, or other weight-loss teas such as rooibos.
#5: Green Tea Can Protect You From Type 2 Diabetes
Did you know that Type 2 diabetes is fast becoming one of the biggest health threats of our time? The CDC states that 11.3% of the U.S. population has it, while an incredible 38% of adults 18 or over have pre-diabetes.
But what separates Type 2 diabetes from Type 1 diabetes?
While Type 1 diabetes is a genetic disorder, Type 2 diabetes is the result of lifestyle habits such as a high-sugar diet. While we can’t wave a magic wand and undo years of drinking sodas, binging on sugary snacks, and being sedentary, we can shift our lifestyles incrementally, and that includes drinking green tea instead of soda.
So how does green tea help? It may increase insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels, two major factors affecting diabetic and pre-diabetic people. Plus, there’s evidence that it lowers the risk for diabetes by 18%.
Ways to Drink Green Tea
Now that we know how incredibly beneficial green tea is, let’s talk about how to drink it.
The fact is, we want our lives to be as enjoyable as possible, even if we’re committing to our health. And if you don’t like the taste of green tea, it can be hard to incorporate it.
So in addition to drinking it hot or cold, experiment with making different drinks — such as iced green tea with honey or green tea with hibiscus and rose. Just don’t spoil its health benefits by adding processed sugar or other additives.
Iced matcha lattes are also an amazing green tea drink, and they’re incredibly easy to make. Matcha powder is a green powder that consists of ground-up green tea leaves. You can buy it online or at a store — just make sure you’re getting good quality if you want a delicious latte.
To make a latte, you’ll steep the matcha in hot water, then chill it, add ice, and blend with milk of your choice (oat milk is a great option if you’re going dairy-free). This makes a great afternoon pick-me-up.
If you’re wondering when is the best time to drink green tea, consider your level of caffeine sensitivity. Don’t drink it in the evenings, and if you’re prone to insomnia, only have it as a replacement for your morning coffee. With its mildly stimulating qualities and calming effects, you may decide you never want to go back to coffee again.
Here’s to Your Health!
Remember, it’s important to take small yet consistent steps when it comes to long-term goals. Replacing at least one of your daily drinks with a health tonic like green tea can make all the difference in your long-term health.
Your well-being is the best investment you can make in yourself. And as you can see, taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be complicated. Take small steps towards your health goals by treating food as medicine, and see just how simple being healthy can be!