Green Tea: Benefits, Side Effects, and More
The tea vs. coffee debate seems to come along every few years. This time, tea drinkers tally a few points. A new study shows that drinking black or green tea three times a week or more could help you live longer. You can read the study here.
The research team followed over 100,000 participants from across China. At the beginning of the study, participants were given a questionnaire that included a short section on their tea drinking habits. All participants enrolled in the study from 1998 to 2008, and researchers checked in on their hospital records or interviewed their family members about their health status no later than 2015.
The researchers specifically found that consistently drinking tea reduced rates of death from all causes, and they measured a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
Benefits of Tea
Tea seems like an easy thing to add to your lifestyle if it can tack on a few healthy years. But is it worth it? Here are some of the main benefits of tea.
Tea contains powerful antioxidants
Black and green tea from the Camellia sinensis plant contains antioxidants, which are molecules that inactivate damaging free radicals in your body. Here’s what the science says:
- Flavonoids, a type of antioxidants, have been shown to slow the memory and cognition decline that comes with aging.
- Eating polyphenols, another class of antioxidants, may protect your heart https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3651847/
- Certain types of polyphenols, especially the types found in green tea, may help you maintain a healthy weight. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257683/
- Polyphenols feed your friendly gut bacteria. The bifidobacterium species are especially fond of the polyphenols in green tea.
- Flavanoids in black tea reduced cholesterol and triglycerides https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29592809
Tea is easier on the digestive system than coffee
It’s no secret that coffee has stimulating effects -- on your heart rate, on your central nervous system, and on your digestion. A lot of people experience having to go number two after their morning coffee. The stimulant effects act on the intestines, and sometimes amplify peristalsis, which is the wave-like action of the intestines to move partially-digested food down the digestive tract.
That’s why some people experience digestive upset when they drink coffee. Tea doesn’t have as noticeable of an effect on the digestive tract, so you may experience less digestive distress when you have tea as compared to coffee.
L-theanine: a superpower of amino acid in tea
Have you ever noticed that tea gives you a relaxed, yet ready state of wakefulness? One of the most noticeable benefits of tea comes L-theanine, an amino acid that relaxes you without making you drowsy. That’s why tea makes you feel alert without giving you the jitters that you might experience with coffee.
Green tea has more L-theanine than black tea or white tea. Since green tea has less caffeine than black tea, the l-theanine will have a much softer stimulant effect than other options. It’s a great choice if you’re the type of person who walks a fine line between having an afternoon pick-me-up, and forgetting how to blink.
Tea is easier on the adrenals than coffee
Whether you’re sitting in traffic, delivering the perfect sales pitch, or helping your kids through social drama, you encounter lots of day-to-day stress. Your adrenal glands produce your stress hormones, and just like muscles, they can get worn out when they’re working too hard. Even levels of stress that seem insignificant can take a toll when it’s all day, every day.
High levels of caffeine is hard on your adrenal glands, especially when you stack it on top of everyday life stress. With a lower caffeine content than coffee, coupled with the relaxing effects of l-theanine, tea is much gentler on your adrenal glands than coffee is.
But try not to ruin your tea
Tea has some amazing health benefits, but there are ways to take your tea that inactivate its active ingredients or negate the beneficial effects.
Dairy reduces the benefits of tea
Adding milk to your tea can knock out the beneficial compounds that belong in our bodies. Milk proteins have been shown to weaken the antioxidants in tea. Almond, coconut, and oat milk creamers won’t bind the antioxidants, but it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the sugar content if you’re buying store-bought.
Sugar’s harmful effects cancel out the benefits
Sugar has a negative effect on your whole body, whether you’re young or old, and can be as harmful as cigarettes. If you like your tea sweet, you have options. Just three drops of liquid monk fruit sweetener in your cup will create the sweet tea experience you’re looking for.
Drinking too much
You can overdo it. Too much tea may put you in worse shape than if you’d just had a cup of coffee. A typical 10oz cup of coffee has around 115 mg of caffeine, give or take, depending on the beans and how dark the roast is. In comparison, black tea has around 55 mg, and green tea has around 40 mg. Varieties vary in caffeine content.
If you’re guzzling tea to avoid coffee, you may want to rethink your approach.