Globally, the search for herbal supplements and products that help improve fitness and health has witnessed a sharp rise recently. The range of products on shelves across the world continues to grow, with a diverse list of products presently available. One of the oldest and increasingly popular products is green tea, touted to deliver amazing health benefits. Subsequent sections offer detailed information about the tea, its health benefits and possible green tea side effects, which will help users to take suitable preventive and remedial measures to mitigate any adverse effects.

Overview of the beverage

Green tea has been in use for centuries; but popularity and attention towards the beverage has increased in the recent past. Tea holds the distinction of being the second most consumed liquid in the world, after water. The broad difference between green tea and other tea varieties is the oxidation. Green tea is brewed from leaves that are not oxidized, while all other varieties are brewed from leaves that are oxidized. This is precisely the reason behind the relatively higher health benefits of green tea – the increased antioxidants and polyphenols in the green tea are known to deliver the health benefits attributed to the beverage. The process of oxidization of black tea is typically rolling of the tea leaves, following which the leaves are exposed to air, and this results in oxidation. The subtle variations in tea varieties also have to do with the levels of oxidation.

Every cup of green tea typically contains less than 3 grams of calories. Ingredients and nutritional break up include 29 milligrams of caffeine, and polyphenols – with one third of the actual weight of green tea comprising polyphenols. An abundance of catechins in the green tea, is attributed to the 80% of EGCG (polyphenols) in green tea. Green tea is available in different forms including sweetened varieties, bottled tea, green tea bags, instant formulations, loose tea leaves, supplements, and extracts either as capsules or in liquid form.

Health benefits of green tea

Green tea is used a lot in eastern traditional medicine, with proven benefits in controlling bleeding, apart from faster wound healing. It is also used to help in the treatment of digestive problems and is a part of holistic treatment options for cardiovascular health. It is known to have a soothing effect on individuals with mental health issues, and also helps in regulating body temperature, which in turn offers considerable relief from various conditions.

Green tea has been the subject of many studies, and the documented results of such studies are essentially one of the reasons for the popularity of green tea. For instance, studies have shown that green tea helps in weight management, apart from delivering significant outcomes in patients with liver ailments. It is also known to deliver positive results in patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Green tea has also been recommended for daily use by elderly patients with Alzheimer’s disease, the age-related degenerative condition.

Lowering risk of cancer 

It is necessary to add that the studies mentioned above require further studies and in-depth analysis to determine the effects in a manner that is considered to be scientifically accurate and substantiated. Studies about the beverage have also included tracking of the overall health conditions of individuals in geographical locations, based on green tea consumption patterns.  For instance, one study concluded that the prevalence rates of cancer were low among individuals in geographical locations where green tea was consumed more frequently. However, in the absence of other supporting scientific studies, it is early to link green tea with reducing cancer risk.

The effects of green tea in preventing UVB radiation related cancer has more credence, as the number of participants in studies are more, offering additional information. Studies of the effects of green tea in reducing the risk of UVB induced skin cancer has demonstrated with greater evidence, the benefits of tea polyphenols. This offers the promise of greater hope in the future as more studies help offer conclusive proof of this benefit. Other laboratory tests to study the effect of green tea on cancer typically involved tests on animals and test tube cells. Such studies have linked green tea to benefits in different cancer types, including cancer of the breast, the bladder, and the lungs. Other cancer types that have been identified as benefitting from green tea include ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, throat, colorectal, skin and stomach cancer.

Impact of green tea on weight management

One of the reasons for the popularity of green tea has been the impact of the tea on weight management. With more and more individuals looking for options to control weight and burn fat, green tea offered immense hope. It is attributed to the catechins and the caffeine that are known to help increase energy metabolism. As a result of this increase in metabolism, weight management is a possibility. However, results can only be experienced when this is coupled with other dietary and lifestyle changes, By merely drinking green tea, it is wrong to expect a sudden or visible change in weight.

It is also necessary to choose green tea that has a high concentration of catechins, as most varieties and brands of tea are highly unlikely to have ingredients with concentration levels that are high enough to produce results. It is important to choose a tea that comprises the right level of catechins and caffeine for desired results.

Effect of green tea on skin related issues

Before we look at possible green tea side effects, it is time to check out the benefits of the tea on skin conditions. This is also another reason that has contributed to the popularity of green tea. The anti-inflammatory properties of green tea, and the results of laboratory studies on test tube cells, and animals showed impressive outcomes. Studies also concluded that skin microcirculation increased considerably and significantly when green tea extracts were applied on areas of the skin that were affected. As a result of these outcomes, a large number of cosmetic products now contain green tea extracts, in different formulations. This includes topical applications that with green tea extracts that delivered anti-inflammatory properties.

Impact of the beverage on cardiovascular health

Perhaps one of the more important health related effects of green tea, the impact of the beverage of cardiovascular health offers a better insight into the product’s benefits. A reduction in mortality rates had been observed in studies conducted to determine the outcome of the beverage. Participants in studies comprising two different groups experienced different effects. Group members who wire given green tea experienced a lowered risk of cardiovascular conditions, while group members who were not given green tea did not experience any improvement in cardiovascular health or mortality rates. Various studies have indicated that green tea consumption delivers positive results among patients with ischemic and heart conditions. This has also been linked to the effect of green tea in reducing blood pressure levels, and a reduction in inflammation. In addition to this, green tea has been associated with better epithelial function, that has been linked to the risk of heart disease in obese individuals.

Reduction in cholesterol levels

Green tea is also known to help reduce cholesterol levels.  Studies have documented these effects among participants who consumed green tea extract in different forms – including capsules and as a beverage. Participants were assessed to have moderate reduction in LDL levels. This makes it a safe option for achieving reduction in bad cholesterol levels among individuals with borderline high cholesterol levels. This helps dispense with the need for medications, and combined with the right dietary preferences and lifestyle modifications, can help improve health.

Other potential and proven benefits of green tea  

In addition to the above, there is the possibility of green tea consumption helping individuals reduce the risk of stroke.  Studies have also shown that participants who consumed green tea were likely to experience lesser fasting glucose levels, and this makes it a good choice to help individuals with borderline diabetes. The impact of green tea on fasting insulin levels also makes the beverage more effective in a natural way. Studies also looked at individuals who followed what is known as the Mediterranean diet, who were reportedly healthier with lesser rates of prevalence of type 2 diabetes. However, it is early and inconclusive to link green tea alone with these benefits, as Mediterranean diets comprise other unique preferences.

Green tea is also known to help boost memory among users, thereby resulting in better cognitive abilities. This is precisely why it is recommended for use by the elderly diagnosed with degenerative conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. Studies have indicated that there are proven results among elderly patients as a result of the protection of cells from free radical damage, considered as one of the primary reasons for the degenerative condition.

Possible green tea side effects

Despite the documented and potential benefits of green tea, there is always the possibility of undesirable effects from green tea consumption. Some of the effects are probably due to the individual’s health or reactions to certain ingredients, while some effects are mainly as a result of the properties of ingredients and their effects on certain organs or functions of the body. For instance, individuals with a history of sensitivity to caffeine are more likely to end up with sleeping related difficulties such as insomnia due to green tea consumption. There is also the possibility of symptoms or effects such as feelings of nausea, anxiety, unusual or abnormal irritability. People are also known to end up with an upset stomach due to the beverage.

As outlined earlier, undesirable effects include damage to the liver. However, this is limited to only a very small section of users, and is typically known to occur only when the green tea extract is of a higher concentration. There are certain precautions that need to be followed by those who consume the tea. Blood pressure levels and heart beat rate are likely to increase among a small section of individuals consuming the tea along with other drugs that are stimulating in nature. It is therefore necessary to avoid taking green tea along with other substances with a known outcome of stimulating the body.

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