Green tea is one of the healthiest beverages you can drink. It is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that provide many health benefits. Drinking just one cup per day can have positive effects, but more may be better.
Green Tea Overview
Green tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. It goes through a different processing method compared to other true teas like black tea or oolong tea. The leaves are not allowed to oxidize as much, which helps preserve the plant’s healthy compounds.
Some of the main active components of green tea are:
- Catechins – A type of antioxidant that provides many of green tea’s health benefits. The main catechin is EGCG.
- L-theanine – An amino acid that has a relaxing effect.
- Caffeine – A stimulant, although green tea contains much less than coffee or energy drinks.
- Vitamin C – An essential nutrient and antioxidant.
- Other antioxidants like flavonoids and polyphenols.
Due to the way it is processed, green tea retains most of these nutrients and antioxidants better than other types of tea. That’s why drinking it is associated with many health benefits.
Benefits of Green Tea
Here are some of the main health benefits associated with drinking green tea:
May Improve Brain Function
The caffeine and L-theanine content in green tea can improve brain function. Caffeine blocks adenosine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. This leads to improved firing of neurons and concentration.
L-theanine increases activity of GABA, a neurotransmitter with anti-anxiety effects. This combination of caffeine and L-theanine in green tea leads to increased concentration and improved mood.
May Aid Weight Loss
Green tea may help you lose weight and reduce body fat. The catechins and caffeine both assist in this by boosting metabolism and increasing fat burning. Drinking green tea has been shown to help people burn 3-4% more calories each day.
Contains Antioxidants That Protect Cells
The catechins and polyphenols in green tea are potent antioxidants. These compounds can neutralize reactive oxygen species, protecting cells from damage. This may reduce the risk of many diseases like heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
May Lower Heart Disease Risk
Green tea improves many of the main risk factors for heart disease. It lowers total and LDL cholesterol, reduces blood pressure and prevents blood clot formation. Drinking green tea is associated with a lower risk of heart attack and stroke.
May Reduce Cancer Risk
The main catechin in green tea, EGCG, can reduce the growth of cancer cells and inhibit angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels in tumors). Observational studies link green tea drinkers with reduced cancer risk, but more research is needed.
Improves Dental Health
Green tea has antibacterial properties that can kill bacteria in your mouth and improve dental health. It also contains fluoride which strengthens tooth enamel. Drinking green tea after meals can reduce your risk of cavities.
How Much Green Tea Per Day is Recommended?
Most of the research on green tea has used about 3-5 cups per day. The average cup contains around 240ml of liquid.
However, this amount will vary based on how the tea is brewed. The common recommendation is to consume 2-3 cups per day, or 240-320mg of catechins.
Keep in mind that green tea still contains some caffeine. Consuming too much may cause side effects like jitteriness, headaches and upset stomach in sensitive people.
Potential Side Effects
Green tea is generally well tolerated, but it does contain caffeine and tannins that can cause side effects in some people if consumed in excess, including:
- Upset stomach
- Rapid heartbeat
- Trouble sleeping
Green tea supplements that contain high doses of catechins may also potentially cause liver toxicity. Therefore, it is best to stick to brewed green tea.
Is 1 Cup Per Day Enough?
The research to date shows health benefits associated with green tea at intakes of 3-5 cups per day, providing 240-320mg catechins. However, some studies have found benefits with lower intakes:
|Study||Green Tea Intake||Main Finding|
|Ryu et al. 2016||1 cup/day||Reduced risk of diabetes in overweight individuals|
|Wang et al. 2014||1 cup/day||Lower risk of prostate cancer|
|Mineharu et al. 2011||1-2 cups/day||Lower risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke|
Based on the current evidence, 1 cup containing about 240ml of brewed green tea per day is enough to get some of the associated health benefits.
However, keep in mind that drinking more may provide increased effects. Most of the studies used higher intakes of 3-5 cups per day.
Maximizing the Benefits of Your Green Tea
Here are some tips to get the most health benefits out of your cup of green tea:
- Brew loose leaf teas instead of tea bags
- Steep for 3-5 minutes at 160°F – 180°F
- Avoid adding milk, as it may block catechin absorption
- Drink it hot or chilled, not warm
- Try a high quality matcha green tea
- Pair it with lemon, ginger or mint
- Sweeten it with honey instead of sugar, if needed
Additionally, keep in mind that the catechins degrade over time at room temperature. So drink your tea soon after brewing for maximum benefits.
Does Green Tea Have Caffeine?
Yes, green tea contains caffeine. However, the amount is much less compared to coffee.
On average, an 8 ounce (240 ml) cup of green tea contains around 25 mg of caffeine. This is compared to 95-200 mg of caffeine in the same amount of coffee.
The actual caffeine content will vary based on factors like the tea variety, brew time, water temperature and tea-to-water ratio. But generally green tea is considered low to moderate in caffeine.
The low caffeine content in green tea is unlikely to cause side effects in most people. Those sensitive to caffeine may still need to moderate intake.
Which Green Tea is Best?
There are many good options when it comes to green tea. However, some varieties are considered higher quality than others:
- Matcha: Ground green tea leaves with a powder-like texture. Rich in nutrients and antioxidants.
- Sencha: A high-quality, traditional Japanese green tea.
- Gyokuro: A shaded green tea considered one of the finest from Japan.
- Pi Lo Chun: A famous green tea from China with a distinctive fruity flavor.
- Dragonwell: Chinese variety with a refreshing, nutty flavor.
In general, loose leaf teas made from younger leaves and buds tend to be higher quality and more nutritious than tea bags.
Is Green Tea Good for You?
Yes, green tea is very good for you. It contains many nutrients and antioxidants linked to improved health.
However, moderation is key, since excessive caffeine or green tea extract supplements can potentially cause problems. But brewed green tea is highly nutritious and associated with many health benefits.
Can Green Tea Reduce Belly Fat?
Green tea can help reduce belly fat in a number of ways:
- Its antioxidants boost metabolism and burn fat.
- Caffeine helps mobilize fat from fat tissue.
- Catechins block the enzyme that breaks down norepinephrine, inducing fat breakdown.
- Catechins may prevent new fat cells from forming.
In fact, drinking green tea is linked to decreased belly fat and lower body fat percentage. Consuming green tea along with exercise provides even more abdominal fat burning benefits.
Does Green Tea Suppress Appetite?
Green tea has been shown to suppress appetite to some extent. Two of the ways it does this include:
- Caffeine: Works on hormones like peptide YY and leptin to suppress appetite.
- Catechins: May work synergistically with caffeine to increase fat burning and reduce appetite.
In studies, green tea preparations containing both caffeine and catechins suppressed feelings of hunger and increased satiety hormones better than caffeine alone.
Is Green Tea with Honey Good for You?
Green tea with honey is a tasty way to get the health benefits of green tea. The honey adds additional antioxidants and helps improve the taste.
However, it’s best to minimize added sugars. Use just a small amount of raw, local honey to lightly sweeten your green tea.
Overall, green tea with a little honey is a very healthy beverage choice.
Does Green Tea Increase Metabolism?
Yes, green tea has been shown to increase metabolism. The combination of caffeine and catechins is responsible for this effect.
Here’s how green tea boosts metabolism:
- Caffeine increases resting energy expenditure.
- Catechins, especially EGCG, speed up metabolism by inducing thermogenesis.
- These compounds stimulate fat oxidation by boosting norepinephrine activity.
Drinking green tea, especially before exercise, can promote fat burning by increasing metabolism 3-4% for up to 24 hours.
One cup containing 240ml of green tea per day is enough to get some of the health benefits. This provides around 240mg of protective catechins.
However, the research tends to focus on higher intakes of 3-5 cups per day. More may provide increased benefits, although too much could cause side effects from excess caffeine.
Overall, green tea is delicious and extremely good for you. Drink 1-3 cups per day as part of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle.