Monday, November 1, 2010

Green tea: Does it work miracles?

By Amanda Putz
Published: Monday, October 4, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Green tea is society's current "it" product and can be found in diet pills, drinks, beauty supplies and even our beloved ice cream. It is an integral ingredient because it contains antioxidants that fight free radicals and help decrease chances of certain health problems. The green tea antioxidants are called catechins; these antioxidants search for free radicals in the body that contribute to cancers, the aging process, diabetes and blood clots.

Originating in China, the tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. Many countries, China included, have used green tea in their diets for centuries and have experienced its subsequent health effects. These benefits, however, are only achieved when coupled with a well-balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

According to Jackie Berning, a professor in the Biology Department, "If you want to have a cup of green tea in the morning that's fine, but you also need to incorporate more fruits and vegetables and watch the amount of fast food you're putting in your body."

The main difference between green tea and the other Chinese teas like black and oolong, is its method of processing. The green tea process is more delicate, and instead of being fermented, green tea leaves are steamed. By steaming the leaves, the green tea catechins, the most prominent being epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), becomes more concentrated. In this form EGCG can assist in the reduction of cancer tumors and has other therapeutic properties as well.

Another major health benefit of green tea is its aid in weight loss; research shows that green tea boosts a user's metabolism, decreases appetite and will inhibit fat absorption. Consequently, there are approximately 20 weight loss products with green tea as a prominent ingredient. The most effective of these contain caffeinated green tea. Diet pills in general contain caffeine because it increases the user's heart rate, making it easier to lose weight when he or she exercises.

While green tea is beneficial, it is not the cure-all supplement. Eating healthfully will ensure positive green tea results. Also, being aware of the health dangers of consuming vast amounts of caffeine on a daily basis is important to consider. Studies advise three to five cups of green tea daily, but if this is too difficult, green tea extract, green tea pills or a green tea patch are available options.


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