Can a cup of green tea a day keep the doctor away?

November 19, 2008 by  

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The cold weather is upon us and a cup of something hot is just the thing to drive the chills away. So what is your favorite hot drink?

This report by Greek researchers published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation suggests we should go for green tea.

What’s in a cup of green tea?

Green tea is made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis, a plant that grows in China and other parts of Asia. Whereas “tea” is the Western world usually refers to black tea, “tea” in countries like Japan and Korea actually refers to green tea. Unlike black tea, green tea is practically unprocessed and has therefore undergone very little oxidation. Green tea contains strong antioxidants in the form of flavonoids, similar to what is found in red wine and dark chocolate. However, it is thought that green tea contains more antioxidant compared to other hot beverages because of the minimal oxidation it undergoes during production. The antioxidant content would vary, though, depending on the tea plant variety and cultivation and processing styles.

What are the health benefits of green tea?

“The study found that the consumption of green tea rapidly improves the function of (endothelial) cells lining the circulatory system; endothelial dysfunction is a key event in the progression of atherosclerosis.”

The randomized study of 14 participants involved the measurement of the diameter of the brachial artery 30, 90 and 120 minutes after drinking a cup of green tea, a cup of coffee and a cup of hot water. Results showed that the brachial artery, which a major blood vessel in the upper arm, was significantly more dilated after drinking green tea. The highest measurement was 3.9% increase after 30 minutes of consumption. No significant dilation effect was observed among those who drank coffee or hot water.

According to researcher Dr Nikolaos Alexopoulos

“These findings have important clinical implications. Tea consumption has been associated with reduced cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in several studies. Green tea is consumed less in the Western world than black tea, but it could be more beneficial because of the way it seems to improve endothelial function. In this same context, recent studies have also shown potent anticarcinogenic effects of green tea, attributed to its antioxidant properties.”

However, a study by German researchers indicated that the endothelial function amelioration effect of black tea is comparable to that of green tea.

Besides its cardiovascular benefits, green tea is associated with reduced mortality due to other diseases. Japanese researchers found that regular drinking of green tea can prevent chronic diseases from cardiovascular disorder to cancer and can therefore prolong lifespan.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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