The therapeutic treatment of some age-related diseases with medicinal plants has been booming in recent decades. This may be due to its easy access, low cost and, above all, its availability in nature.
This is the case of green tea leaves, with which an infusion is made, to which various medicinal benefits are attributed, since ancient Western culture.
In the following article, we provide you with the necessary information so that you know about the benefits of this preparation.
What is green tea?
Green tea is an infusion made from the leaves of the tea tree. The main countries of origin of this plant are from South China and Southeast Asia, although today it is cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions.
The scientific name is camellia sinensis , and it is a shrub that has a strong main root; its leaves and buds are used to make tea.
The generic name camellia was given by Linnaeus in honor of the 17th century botanist Jiří Josef Camel (known as Camellus), who brought plants of this species from the Philippines to Europe. The specific name sinensis is derived from Latin and alludes to the location of this species in China.
With the leaves of this tree, a tea is made, which has therapeutic properties, due to its content of active ingredients such as caffeine and natural antioxidants.
The fresh leaves of the tea tree contain a high amount of flavanols (derived from flavonoids) called catechins. The main ones present in tea are epicatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate, and epigallocatechin gallate, the latter being the most abundant catechin in tea.
Tea tree leaves contain about 4% caffeine. The chemical composition of the collected leaves depends on the age and the procedure to process them to obtain the different degrees of oxidation, which allows the elaboration of green, black, white, red, yellow and oolong tea. The most widely used variety is Camellia sinensis.
Green tea health benefits
The main benefits that we give you below correspond to the tea made from the leaves of the camellia sinensis variety, without any oxidation process.
1. Reduces the risk of heart attacks
The main flavonoid compounds in green tea are catechins , with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These compounds block low-density, or LDL, cholesterol and increase HDL, or high-density cholesterol, factors associated with heart disease and stroke.
Also its potassium content helps to contract the muscles and to keep the heart rate constant.
An article titled “Green tea, a good choice for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases?” , refers to the antioxidant effect of polyphenols (catechins) in green tea.
The same beneficial action is produced on protein deposits, which increase the size of atheromatous plaques, which clog the coronary arteries. This places the individual to have a minor of cardiac pathologies.
2. Lowers bad cholesterol in the blood
As mentioned above, the effects of the catechins contained in green tea balance the concentration of low and high density cholesterol in the blood, using as a mechanism, the limitation of cholesterol absorption through the intestines. Likewise, it balances triglyceride levels .
A scientific article mentions the ability of green tea to induce hypocholesterolemic, resulting in a lower absorption of triglycerides and cholesterol, which would cause lower certain parameters, less weight gain by the consumer
3. Balances blood sugar
Green tea has a controlling effect on blood sugar levels . This is explained because the antioxidants (polyphenols) it contains reduce insulin resistance, a problem associated with type 2 diabetics.
4. Control blood pressure
Due to the compatibility between the antioxidants and polyphenols contained in green tea, they reveal a potential to reduce blood pressure. This is stated in a clinical trial carried out on women over 70 years of age.
5. Improves digestive health
The tannin content in the green tea leaf helps stomach upsets such as diarrhea. Together with caffeine, tannins achieve better kidney function (diuretic function), which is followed by increased absorption of fluid in the intestine.
6. Helps eliminate toxins
Due to its antioxidant components, green tea contributes to renal function in diuresis, facilitating the elimination of toxins produced in the body’s metabolic processes. Therefore, it is a liver protector due to its antioxidants and additionally helps to eliminate fat from the liver.
7. Fight infections
Some studies show that green tea catechins can inhibit the growth of Streptococcus mutans , the most harmful bacteria in the mouth. The consumption of green tea is related to improvements in dental health and a decrease in the risk of suffering from cavities.
8. Delays cell aging
Genes, age and family history are the main factors that affect the onset of Alzheimer’s. This degenerative disease is more common in humans and is the leading cause of dementia.
Green tea not only improves brain function in the short term, but it can also protect your brain from aging. Likewise, Parkinson’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease, involving the death of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain .
In this sense, many studies have shown that the high content of polyphenols such as catechins, specifically epigallocatechin-3-gallate in green tea, can have various protective effects on neurons, potentially decreasing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson.
9. Increases brain functions
One of the effects of green tea on brain functions is due to its caffeine content, which is known as a stimulant, maintaining the individual’s state of alertness.
What it achieves is the activation of neurons and the concentration of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine, through the blockade of an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine. In fact, some studies have shown that caffeine can have a synergistic effect.
10. Stimulates metabolism
This statement arises above all, due to the effect of its catechins, and caffeine as a stimulant. The combination of catechins with caffeine causes an acceleration of the metabolic process in individuals who ingest green tea.
11. Reduces inflammation
Due to its high concentration of flavonoids and polyphenolic components, green tea contributes to the action against inflammation in the body.
The catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate, a component of green tea, works by inhibiting the production of molecules responsible for some inflammatory processes in tissues and joints, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
12. Promotes weight loss
The consumption of green tea by preventing the absorption of triglycerides and cholesterol through the digestive system, and increasing the activity of the central nervous system due to the action of caffeine and riboflavin, greatly favors the loss of body fat, perhaps through the practice of sports activities.
On the other hand, a scientific article mentions the effectiveness, under certain parameters, of the consumption of green tea on the composition and body weight of the individuals under study.
13. Increase energy
Thanks to its caffeine and riboflavin (vitamin B2) content, green tea stimulates the central nervous system, increasing wakefulness, and has an ergogenic effect (increases the ability to perform physical effort).
Produces cardiac stimulation, increasing the rate and force of contraction of the heart (positive inotropic effect).
14. Reduces the risk of cancer
Thanks to the catechin content in green tea, it causes an antioxidant effect on certain enzymes that favor the formation of cancer cells, collaborating in the action of chemical and physical therapeutic agents used in the treatment of cancer.
This is how an article entitled “Tea consumption and health: characteristics and beneficial properties of this ancient drink” refers , in which the anti-cancer property of green tea is highlighted.
15. Promotes oral health
Thanks to its composition of minerals such as zinc and calcium, green tea helps to preserve teeth. In addition, according to studies , the extract of camellia sinensis has been used in the treatment of chronic periodontitis.
In the same way, a literary review also concludes that it can be an adjuvant in dental treatments.
It also prevents the accumulation of plaque on the teeth, since the leaves contain a natural fluoride, useful in the prevention of dental caries.
Green tea properties
Below we list the most important chemical components of green tea, and their contribution to the body:
Green tea contains vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 or riboflavin, vitamin C and of which we mention its benefits:
Vitamin C is needed for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body. It is involved in the formation of an important protein used to make skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels, heal wounds, and form scar tissue.
Vitamin B2 (or riboflavin) favors intercellular oxygenating activity, improving the state of nervous system cells and collaborating in the regeneration of tissues such as skin, hair, nails and mucous membranes, and especially in the integrity of the cornea, thus contributing to improve visual health.
Vitamin B6 (or pyridoxine) favors the formation of red blood cells, blood cells and hormones, is involved in the synthesis of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and helps maintain the nervous and immune systems in perfect condition, indirectly participating in the antibody production.
The minerals that make up this compound are calcium, zinc, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, potassium and iodine . Here are the most important benefits of each of them:
Calcium contributes to the strengthening of bones, teeth and gums, and favors proper blood coagulation, preventing cardiovascular diseases, since calcium helps lower blood cholesterol levels. It also helps in the regularity of the heart rate and in the transmission of nerve impulses, reducing blood pressure in people suffering from hypertension.
Zinc is also involved in the bone formation process, as well as in the development of the reproductive organs, favoring the functioning of the prostate gland. It is also a powerful natural antioxidant, favors the absorption of vitamin A and the synthesis of proteins such as collagen.
Phosphorus participates in certain functions of our body such as the formation and development of bones and teeth, the secretion of breast milk, cell division and metabolism, or the formation of muscle tissue. Its presence in the cell membranes of the brain improves memory performance.
Iron is essential for the synthesis of hemoglobin, in the renewal of blood cells. It also makes it possible to transport oxygen from the lungs to different organs, such as the muscles, liver, heart or brain, iron being a determining factor in cognitive functions of the latter.
Potassium, together with sodium, is responsible for regulating the acid-base balance and the concentration of water in the blood and tissues, generating an electrical potential that promotes muscle contractions and nerve impulses, especially in cardiac activity.
Magnesium improves muscle and neuronal tone, favors the transmission of nerve impulses, and the contraction and relaxation of muscles.
Collaborates in strengthening the bone system and teeth, and intervenes in the cardiovascular system, helping to maintain a stable heart rate and blood pressure, protecting the walls of blood vessels. It acts as a vasodilator, thus preventing the formation of clots.
Finally, iodine favors the functioning of the nervous and muscular tissues, as well as the circulatory system.
A cup of unsweetened green tea provides 2 kcal. Due to its low caloric content, it is ideal for weight loss regimens.
How to prepare and consume green tea
Green tea is a drink that, being diuretic, helps to eliminate retained fluids and, with it, decrease the volume and that is why it is considered a slimming drink. Here is a simple recipe:
- Green Tea
- Lemon juice
- sweetener to taste
Preparation and consumption:
- Pour a cup of water into a pot and bring it to a boil.
- When it boils, add the green tea.
- Then reduce the heat to a minimum and leave the drink for another 2-3 minutes.
- After this time, remove it and let it rest at room temperature for 10 or 15 minutes.
- Finally, filter the infusion through a fine strainer and add the juice of half a lemon, as well as the sweetener of your choice.
University Professional in the area of Human Resources, Postgraduate in Occupational Health and Hygiene of the Work Environment, 14 years of experience in the area of health. Interested in topics of Psychology, Occupational Health, and General Medicine.