Many health and nutrition experts consider green tea to be one of the healthiest beverages out there. For thousands of years, this plant-based beverage has been used medicinally throughout the continent of Asia. It’s full of beneficial antioxidants and nutrients that can positively impact your overall health. Because of this, green tea is currently used for a variety of health-related purposes, including weight loss, skin care, and disease prevention.
However, like with many alternative health trends, there are a number of unproven claims about green tea floating around online. Before spending money on green tea beverages, capsules, and products, it’s a good idea to have realistic expectations about how green tea can impact your health and wellness goals.
If you’re curious about the potential health benefits of green tea, keep reading. We’ll give you the scoop on several of the most common green tea myths as well as a few of the proven benefits associated with drinking green tea.
Debunking Common Green Tea Myths
Let’s start by discussing a few of the most common myths about the health effects of green tea:
Green Tea and Fat-Burning
One of the most popular green tea myths is the belief that drinking green tea can boost your body’s fat-burning abilities. Unfortunately, drinking green tea has not been proven to have a measurable impact on fat loss or weight maintenance.
Although drinking green tea alone won’t get rid of unwanted body fat, it can contribute to your overall weight loss and weight maintenance goals. For example, you can replace sugary, high-calorie beverages like lattes and soft drinks with unsweetened green tea for a low-calorie caffeine boost. Drinking at least four cups of green tea each day may also boost your metabolism, which can have a positive impact on your weight loss goals when included as a part of a healthy and balanced diet.
Green Tea and Cancer
Because green tea is packed with antioxidants, many people falsely believe that it can significantly reduce their risk of developing cancer. Although some studies have shown green tea drinkers to have reduced disease risks, this is likely due to a combination of other healthy lifestyle choices.
Plant-based food and beverage sources like fruits, vegetables, and tea almost always contain beneficial antioxidants, so this characteristic is not unique to green tea alone. The National Cancer Institute does not mention green tea as a significant cancer prevention method. Although evidence directly supporting green tea’s cancer-fighting abilities in humans remains inconclusive, it’s still a healthy source of antioxidants which provide the body with various health benefits.
Proven Health Benefits of Green Tea
Now that you know the truth about some of the most common myths about green tea, let’s discuss a few of the proven benefits that this beverage can provide.
It Can Enhance Mental Alertness
Because green tea contains significant amounts of caffeine, drinking it improves your mental alertness. Studies have shown a link between regular caffeine consumption and improvements in mood, memory, and physical reflexes.
Green tea is also rich in an amino acid known as L-theanine. This chemical has been shown to reduce anxiety levels and increase the brain’s dopamine levels which stabilizes the additional energy that caffeine provides. Caffeine and L-theanine work together to improve mental function and increase energy levels without the jitters that can commonly accompany caffeine consumption.
Green tea also contains compounds known as catechins which have been shown to improve spatial cognition learning ability in lab tests involving rats. Additional research shows that catechins may reduce the risk of neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
It Can Improve Physical Performance
Another way that drinking green tea can contribute to your overall health and fitness goals is by improving your physical performance. The caffeine in green tea has the ability to extract fatty acids from your body’s fat stores to use as additional fuel.
This can improve your overall athletic stamina, allowing you to increase the intensity and time length of your routine workout sessions. Additional clinical studies have concluded that caffeine can improve your physical performance by about 12%.
Green Tea Has Anti-Pathogenic Properties
The catechins in green tea that contribute to its brain-boosting effects may also be beneficial for combating bacteria, viruses, and fungi within the body. Research has shown that a particular catechin known as EGCG, can slow or stop the spread of the pathogens that cause conditions like staph aureus, the flu, and fungal infections. It can also kill off oral bacteria that cause dental issues like plaque, tooth decay, and bad breath.
While green tea isn’t a magic remedy for belly fat or cancer, it provides the body with plenty of beneficial chemicals and nutrients that can positively impact your overall health.