Green tea is a very healthy drink that is renowned for its ability to help prevent diseases. For this reason, it has become increasingly popular around the world. It first appeared over three centuries ago when the Chinese began to practice agriculture on the banks of the Mekong River. The drinking of green tea has become a ritual in countries such as China, India and Japan where it symbolises wellbeing, serenity and harmony. It was first brought to Europe by traders in the 16th Century as a luxury item.
According to clinical studies in North America and Japan, green tea has significant anti-cancer properties. The main substance responsible for this is catechin, whose consumption can help reduce lung, breast or ovarian cancer by up to 18%. Chinese studies have demonstrated a relationship between green tea consumption and reduced risk of stomach, pancreatic, prostate and colorectal cancer. The antioxidants contained in the green tea plant are more potent than vitamin E and C and can help protect our cells against tumours.
Prevention of cardiovascular disease
Green tea is capable of reducing the body’s levels of triglycerides and harmful LDL cholesterol, while at the same time increasing HDL cholesterol, which is known as "good cholesterol". Due to its antioxidant properties, it works to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol and this in turn acts to stop the clogging of arteries. Thanks to these effects, it has been determined that consuming green tea can prevent heart disease or accelerate the recovery of heart cells in people who have suffered a heart attack.
Green tea contains polyphenols and catechins, which are antioxidants that eliminate free radicals. One result of this is that the degenerative processes and the effects of aging are slowed. They also have a protective effect on blood vessels, as they improve elasticity and reduce the risk of clogging. Like caffeine, green tea contains xanthine, which slightly stimulates the nerve centres helping fight fatigue and decay.
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If you have bad eating habits, you will be providing your liver with extra work in the form of rising blood toxicity levels. Medical studies have shown that the catechins in green tea act to cleanse the liver, thus protecting it from toxins. Green tea can therefore be considered to help prevent liver diseases such as hepatitis or cirrhosis, which are sometimes caused by food poisoning. Three cups of green tea a day is recommended to protect your liver and heart.
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Green tea acts as a metabolic regulator in relation to lipid and glucose, preventing sudden increases in blood sugar levels. Polyphenols in green tea increase fat metabolism, resulting in weight reduction. One study in Japan found that people who took green tea extracts over a certain period of time lost weight. In addition, their blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels had decreased by the end of the study. Another important property of green tea is L-Thiamine, which helps reduce stress and anxiety.
Healthy teeth and good digestion
The stimulant effects of green tea on the gastrointestinal tract are well known. It helps reduce intestinal gases and inflammatory processes such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. It also acts against dental cavities, preventing bad breath, gingivitis and mouth sores. Mao Zedong, the communist leader of China from 1945 to 1976, is said to have had one of the healthiest set of teeth in Asia thanks to chewing green tea on a daily basis.
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Benefits for bones
The beneficial effects of green tea on bones are also important. Its high content of fluoride helps preserve bone density of the spine and hips. Its use is therefore strongly recommended for postmenopausal women to help prevent osteoporosis. Green tea reduces the inflammation associated with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and it helps prevent cartilage breakdown in people with the same condition.
A reduction in neurological disease
Another of the positive health effects of the polyphenols in green tea is that they also act on degenerative diseases. According to a study presented at an annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, polyphenols have been shown to block the reception of the neurotoxin MPP+ by neurons. Green tea prevents neurological cell damage which strengthens memory and may help combat diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
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Strengthening the immune system
A study conducted by the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University showed that a component of green tea significantly increased the number of T lymphocytes in the body. These regulatory cells are essential for fighting infections, allergies and autoimmune diseases. Green tea helps prevent immunodeficiency and its light antibiotic effect prevents bacterial infections and some viruses.
According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the lens, retina and other tissues in the eye can absorb significant levels of catechins found in green tea. This powerful antioxidant protects the eyes against a number of conditions such as glaucoma, sties, conjunctivitis and eye fatigue. On a cosmetic level, it prevents the formation of dark circles and bags. One home remedy for irritated or puffy eyes is to apply green tea bags to your eyelids after they have been in the fridge for about ten minutes.
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