Of all the teas packing the shelves at supermarkets, the tea most closely associated with diet and fitness is green tea. Green tea has been lauded as a weight loss miracle that can:
- Increase metabolism
- Lower LDL cholesterol
- Boost the immune system
- Decrease bloating and increase fat loss
Most research into the health benefits of green tea is still in its infancy, and further study is needed to definitively prove some of the claims made by tea fanatics. While green tea isn't the magic bullet or miracle pill so many dieters look for, it has undeniable health benefits.
Green tea offers the perfect solution for people who need a pick-me-up in the morning, but don't like the taste of coffee. Green tea has between 24-40 mg of caffeine per 8 oz. glass (coffee has 90-200 mg per glass) making it an ideal choice for people who like smaller doses of caffeine, but get jittery if they have too much.
Green tea is an excellent choice for people who want to steer clear of sodas and other sweetened beverages. Since green tea is fat, calorie and sugar free and can be enjoyed both hot and cold, it's an excellent addition to any healthy eating plan.
Green tea is also high in natural antioxidants called catechins. One of these antioxidants, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) has been linked to increased metabolism and weight loss. The antioxidants from green tea have multiple benefits,due to the fact that antioxidants are dilators, which improve the flexibility of blood vessels and make them less susceptible to clogging.
If you're looking for ways to add green tea to your daily routine, there are ways to ensure you get the most out of every cup you drink.
- Make sure your green tea is actually green. All teas - black, oolong, green and white - are made from Camellia sinensis, a Chinese plant known as the "tea shrub." The differences in taste and color come from the levels of oxidization the leaves undergo. Black tea is the most oxidized, green and white teas the least. If your tea is brown, it's been oxidized, and has likely lost some of the health benefits you derive from drinking it.
- Brew your own. The thing that gives green tea its oomph - catechin - is more abundant in loose leaf teas. Processed teas - both in tea bags and bottles - have significantly fewer catechins. Plus, bottled teas are usually loaded with sugars. Consider brewing a lot of green tea and then sticking it in your refrigerator as refreshment on a summer afternoon.
- Don't add milk or sugar to your tea. The reasons for avoiding sugar are obvious, but there's some evidence that the proteins in milk interfere with the antioxidant benefits of drinking green tea.
So the next time you're craving something with a little flavor, opt for green tea over energy drinks or sodas. It's an excellent source of both nutrition and refreshment.