Green tea: what it is and its benefits

Green tea: what it is and its benefits

 

What is green tea?

Like other varieties of tea, green tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, but differs from other teas in that it does not undergo a fermentation process before it can be consumed. The leaves are picked fresh, pressed, rolled, crushed and then dried. Between a quarter and a fifth of the tea produced worldwide is green tea, the main producing countries being Japan, China and Vietnam. In fact, thanks to its pleasant aroma, its rich flavour and its beneficial properties for health, it is becoming increasingly popular among therapeutic infusions.

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What are the benefits of green tea?

Green tea has been shown to have the most antioxidant properties compared to all other varieties of tea. Eastern countries were the first to see the many benefits and goodness of green tea, as it has been cultivated and consumed in parts of China for more than five thousand years. Initially, it was considered an exclusive product, consumed only by the Chinese nobility. Later, Buddhist monks contributed greatly to its consumption and spread.

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Beyond its taste, the benefits of green tea have been corroborated by tests and studies carried out in recent times, confirming that it is a broad-spectrum therapeutic drink for our organism.

Medicinal properties

  • Improves blood circulation.
  • Some studies have confirmed that its consumption has a positive effect on the optimum elasticity of the arteries, reducing the risk of collapse and alterations in cardiac pressure.
  • Recent research has also found a link between green tea intake and a lower incidence of different types of cancer.
  • As for its digestive properties, it is a diuretic drink, which helps to eliminate toxins and purify the urinary and gastrointestinal tract. It also has a laxative action, which is ideal for constipation, gas retention and for preventing and relieving all stomach pain linked to these digestive disorders.
  • It regulates liver fat levels, making it beneficial for people suffering from liver problems.

As a weight loss supplement

Green tea has been shown to have a thermogenic action, making it an ideal fat-burning supplement. Research carried out in Taiwan on a large group of people corroborated this fact, resulting in a greater capacity to eliminate fat in people who took green tea for a certain period of time. In fact, there is the well-known green tea diet due to its diuretic properties, which are highly beneficial for alleviating fluid retention.

Although green tea helps to complement a healthy and balanced diet, it should not be forgotten that it does not in itself have the ability to lose weight in those who consume it. As noted, it is an ideal additional supplement to the diet, but it should be accompanied by low-fat foods and physical activity. Some people also choose to accompany it with red tea, another effective fat-burner which also lowers blood lipid levels. In other words, it regulates triglycerides and bad cholesterol (LDL).

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Stimulating properties

Due to its high alkaloid composition, green tea is a mild stimulant that is very suitable for combating fatigue and tiredness, and is less aggressive on the body than coffee. Many sportsmen and women of different disciplines drink green tea before their training sessions, as it combats fatigue and helps them to lose weight.

Benefits for diabetics

Traditionally, green tea has been used to regulate blood sugar levels. In fact, animal studies have shown that it prevents the development of type 1 diabetes, as well as mitigating the development of diabetes.

Beneficial properties for the skin

A large number of cosmetics include a high percentage of Camellia sinensis extracts, as its antioxidant action can be applied to skin care. Camellia sinensis contains numerous vitamins that counteract free radicals, preventing premature ageing of the dermis. It also has benefits for the hair, strengthening it from root to tip. Creams containing green tea essential oil are recommended for treating acne during adolescence.

 

Composition of green tea

The beneficial properties of green tea are due to its composition rich in polyphenols, substances with a high antioxidant action, which give it a slightly bitter taste. Green tea also contains a high concentration of catechins, as well as alkaloids, although the latter in smaller proportions. Alkaloids include theophylline, theobromine and caffeine, hence the stimulant effects of green tea. However, L-theanine, an amino acid compound also present in this variety of tea, has a calming effect on the nervous system.
 

Matcha tea

Basically, matcha tea is the whole green tea leaf which, after a special cultivation, harvesting and drying process, is ground into a fine, purified powder that multiplies the benefits of the infusion. In this sense, one glass of matcha tea is equivalent to about ten glasses of conventional green tea in terms of antioxidant content and nutritional value.

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Very popular in Japan, this more concentrated variant of green tea is gaining more and more followers around the world, thanks to the fact that it multiplies the beneficial effects mentioned above. The only way to get the full potential of the minerals, vitamins, amino acids and antioxidants in green tea is to consume the whole leaf.

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