What are the health benefits of green tea?

Updated March 23, 2017

Humans have consumed tea for more than 5,000 years. Except for water, it is the most commonly consumed beverage in the world, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Ongoing research discloses the many actual and potential health benefits of drinking tea, especially green tea.

Potential Reduced Cancer Risk

Tea contains two primary chemical substances: epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and epigallocatechin (EGC). These substances are flavonoids similar to those found in broccoli, grapes, red wine, and cabbage, which are documented to help prevent cancer, according to "Science Daily". Green tea has significantly higher levels of these antioxidants than black tea, according to the "Journal of Nutrition".

The University of Maryland Medical center notes comparatively lower rates of several types of cancer in countries like Japan, where green tea is a popular drink. The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University cites a study that showed that drinking either green tea or black tea was associated with a lower rate of breast cancer in women who were at increased risk for the disease due to genetic inheritance. However, the Linus Pauling Institute also cautions that more research is necessary to determine the exact nature of how or whether consuming tea actually results in a lower cancer risk.

Raising "Good" Cholesterol, Lowering "Bad" Cholesterol

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, drinking green tea tends to lower overall your cholesterol level and raise the level of HDL or "good" cholesterol. The polyphenols are believed to block the intestines from absorbing cholesterol into your body, excreting it instead. A small study involving male smokers showed that green tea significantly reduces the level of LDL or "bad" cholesterol.

Cardiovascular Benefits

Research suggests that drinking three cups of either green tea or black tea per day may lower the risk of heart attack by approximately 11 percent, in addition to improving overall cardiovascular health, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Several small studies suggest that the EGCG found in green tea improves endothelial function, or blood vessel dilation.

Weight Reduction

Studies published in journals such as the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" report that drinking green tea raises metabolism and improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. Green tea appears to be especially beneficial in increasing your body's capacity to burn calories, because of its high levels of EGCG.

Other Benefits

The Linus Pauling Institute reports that components in green tea and black tea may increase bone mineral density in postmenopausal women, decreasing the risk of osteoporosis. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that green tea may be beneficial in reducing the inflammation of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, as well as working to prevent the occurrence of type 1 diabetes and liver disease.

Catechins and theaflavins in green tea and black tea have been shown to inhibit the growth of oral bacteria, according to research conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Dentistry.

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About the Author

Chris Blank is an independent writer and research consultant with more than 20 years' experience. Blank specializes in social policy analysis, current events, popular culture and travel. His work has appeared both online and in print publications. He holds a Master of Arts in sociology and a Juris Doctor.