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Green Tea- The New Health Drink
|by Dr. Anjana Maitra|
An ancient Chinese proverb goes thus – “Better to be deprived of food for three days than tea for one”. Of the three major beverages of the world – tea, coffee and cocoa – tea is the most popular. Tea has a long and ancient history and has been associated with man since time immemorial.
China is known as the homeland of tea. India and China are probably the first countries to cultivate tea. It is believed that tea shrubs existed in China as early as 5000-6000 years ago. Once when Emperor Shen Nung was sitting under a camellia tree, a few leaves accidentally fell into a cauldron of boiling water. The resulting fragrance tempted the Emperor to sip the brew. This is believed to be the beginning of Chinese tea culture.
The use of green tea as a beverage dates back to 3000 BC. Green tea is believed to have several wide ranging health benefits now supported by recent research. There are four primary polyphenols in green tea and they are often collectively referred to as catechins. Powerful antioxidants, catechins have been shown in recent studies to fight viruses, slow aging and have a beneficial effect on health. The principal catechin is EGCG whose composition in green tea is believed to be 100 times more potent than vitamin C and 25 times better than vitamin E as an antioxidant.
The antioxidants in green tea decrease the risk of blood clots, blood pressure, blood sugar and bad cholesterol and so provide protection against cardiovascular diseases. A series of animal and human studies have highlighted the heart-friendly activity of green tea. The EGCG in green tea is believed to slow the build-up of artery-clogging plaque. Green tea is also believed to improve the LDL-HDL cholesterol ratio, triglycerides and fibrinogen – all blood indicators of heart disease. Green tea helps to reduce cholesterol levels.
Good for teeth
Green tea contains fluoride which is good for teeth. It can kill the bacteria that causes dental plaque. It checks dental decay by inhibiting the growth of oral bacteria and so fights cavities. When used as a mouth rinse, this herbal drink reduces plaque formation. It also counters bad breath.
A new study published in the Clinical Cancer Research reveals how green tea works to curb the development of bladder cancer. Green tea extract inhibits the growth and proliferation of cancerous cells, the study claims. Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) have found that green tea was able to target cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone. The cell movement depends on a bio-chemical process called actin remodeling. When it is activated the cancer cells move and invade other healthy cells. Green tea extract affects actin remodeling.
Catechin, present in green tea removes sleepiness and works as a stress buster. If you are in need of an extra boost, then green tea with the caffeine content is a good stimulant for short time energy. The drink has got a diuretic effect and prevents rashes, indigestion and disease called beriberi. Green tea chemicals destroy harmful microbes only.
New evidence is emerging that green tea can even help dieters. It contains no calories – so is useful to those who want to lose weight. Researchers have found that men who were given a combination of caffeine and green tea extract burned more calories than those given only caffeine or a placebo. Green tea is less processed than black tea and contains rich sources of antioxidants which protect the body’s cells from damage. The steaming process maintains more of its pharmacological properties. It burns calories and speeds up body mechanism.
Green tea helps to reduce the severity of rheumatoid arthritis, cataract, diabetes and impaired immune infection. It fights viruses and can help protect your joints and stave off arthritis in two ways – by reducing inflammation and by protecting against cartilage breakdown. It can even help improve joint mobility. It is believed to help boost immunity with its stimulating effect on the immune system. It acts as a herbalist for aiding in the circulation of the blood, a detoxifier for the blood and an aid in curing liver ailments. Green tea is also good for women experiencing menopause, being a good source of vitamins and minerals. Green tea helps to prevent or delay the formation of cataract and macular degeneration.
Many skin preparations contain green tea extracts – from deodorants to creams. Recent research suggests that green tea may protect your skin from against the damage caused by ultraviolet rays. Green tea is also being widely used to dispel the heat and bring on an instant cool together with a feeling of relaxation. It is also very useful to quench the thirst.
Take one teaspoon of green tea leaves to one cup of just below boiling temperature water, let stand for 10 minutes and then strain. You may add lemon or honey for taste. Green tea is to be sipped slowly, not gulped down. Today green tea is commercially available all over the world and is a favored gift in an attractive basket or packet.
Few herbs go back in time as much as tea does. Tea has been one of the daily necessities in China since time immemorial and the art of growing, processing, brewing and drinking tea evolved in China. Today a wide variety of brews adorn the supermarket shelves. But a wealth of research suggests that green tea can be a welcome addition to your stock of brews. Today scientific research in both Asia and the West is providing hard evidence for the health benefits long associated with drinking green tea. So go ahead and enjoy this magical drink which has myriad therapeutic and medicinal properties
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