Health benefits of green tea for your family
Green tea has been linked to all sorts of health benefits. Claims range from lowering cholesterol to preventing cancer. Not all the claims stand up to scrutiny (the evidence for cancer prevention in particular is shaky at best) but the good PR has sent green tea sales rocketing at the expense of traditional 'builders tea' – so much so that there is even a campaign to save it.
What's so great about green tea and why should your family drink it?
Helping the heart
Green tea is rich in antioxidants, particularly catechins. Because of these, tea (green or black) has been found to be effective at
. It has been shown to lower cholesterol and improve blood flow, helping fight against a range of heart-related issues from blood pressure to heart attacks.
The catechins are also thought to prevent the formation of blood clots. One large-scale study in Japan (where green tea is widely and regularly consumed) found that drinking green tea lowered the risk of dying from stroke by 62% in women and 42% in men.
The same study found drinking green tea to be associated with a lower risk of dying from any cause – 23% in women, 12% in men.
Boosting the brain
A recent study found that drinking green tea can help improve cognitive function, particularly in the working-memory area of the brain; suggesting a possible future as an Alzheimer's treatment. Even more significant for green tea and dementia is that other studies have shown green tea to prevent the build up of beta-amyloid plaques thought to cause the disease.
On a more day-to-day basis, tea also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes alpha-wave activity in our brains – causing relaxation without drowsiness. In so doing it is thought to improve focus, attention and alertness, as well as helping with sleep and mood.
The greener they come
Catechins and theanine are present in all forms of tea – black, green, red – so why all the fuss over green tea in particular?
It's all to do with production. As anyone who's watched a banana ripen over days will know, green plants are younger. It's the same with green tea. Combine that with minimal processing – green tea leaves are steamed to make tea, whereas black tea is allowed to ferment – and green tea just has more of everything good for us.
But before you ditch your builders tea completely, bear in mind that all tea is good for you. So much so that Dr. Ruxton of Kings College London claims “Drinking tea is actually better for you than drinking water.”