Green tea like many other teas come from the Camellia plant. Chinese Camellia sinensis is a woody perennial evergreen plant whose leaves and leaf buds are used to produce Chinese teas, like White tea, green tea, oolong, pu-erhtea and black tea are all made from the Camellia plant, but are processed in different ways to attain different levels of oxidation. The oxidation changes the properties and taste of the tea. Herbal teas on the other hand are taken from the herbal plant itself.
Green tea benefits
The minimal processing of green tea (leaves are steamed instead of fermented) make green tea catechins unique, thus containing more concentrated forms of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), the active ingredient many studies have highlighted as the ‘punch’ behind green tea benefits. Thus, green tea benefits stem from theses powerful antioxidants that scavenge your cells for free radicals that could otherwise damage DNA. There is still a question, however, of how much green tea you need to drink to reap its health benefits primarily because EGCG is not always fully used by the body.
Green tea and its extract have been shown to fight obesity and lower LDL or the “bad” cholesterol — two risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, this has been shown in some limited studies.
In one Dutch study, participants who drank caffeinated green tea lost more weight, but even those who drank the decaf variety saw a decrease in their waistlines and body weight. Researchers point out that caffeine helps with fat oxidation leading to more weight loss.
In a Japanese study, 240 men and women were given varying amounts of green tea extract for three months. Those who got the highest amount lost fat and weight and had lower blood pressure and lower LDL “bad” cholesterol. But, some proponents of the study argue the environment people live in, their diet and lifestyle impact the results found in the study as the study was not consistent in other countries.
Don’t be dismayed however, the evidence suggest that drinking a few cups of green tea on a daily basis could have a positive effect on your overall health. It’s just not the magic bullet we all look for!