History of the Green Tea
Green tea, also known as Camellia sinensis, is a plant with more than 4000 years of history, especially in traditional Chinese medicine, where it has demonstrated its benefits and potential for our health. After water, green tea is the second most-consumed drink in the world.
To this plant, there are attributed properties that are close to "Miraculous". The effects it had on people who consumed it constantly forced scientists to determine the active ingredients in its composition and the effect they had on the cells of our body.
The result was amazing. Although there are several molecules that have demonstrated positive effects, it seems that the most powerful is the so-called "Polyphenols," compounds with a great antioxidant potential, capable of mitigating the effects of harmful reactions known as "Oxidative Stress."
In addition to the polyphenols in green tea (which include flavonoids, catechins, and tannins), it is also possible to find other molecules with many scientific studies that certify their potential. Within this select group, we have Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), Caffeine, Theophylline, and Theobromine.
Benefits of Green Tea
With so many beneficial molecules and such great antioxidant power, it is normal that there are positive effects on our health. Some of these include:
Green tea has been shown to have an antihyperglycemic effect, especially on type 2 diabetes (where glucose build-up is the focus of the disease). The effect of this plant is based on direct and indirect measures.
Some studies claim that green tea can "Sensitize" our tissues to insulin, which would facilitate the entry of glucose into the cells and reduce the accumulation of this molecule in the blood. On the other hand, other studies claim that green tea can increase insulin secretion, a key aspect that could be its best effect on diabetes (1, 2).
One cup of green tea a day can reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 10%, according to recent studies. This is due in the first place to the effect of the antioxidants it possesses on the famous "Atheromatous" plaque, a solid accumulation of cholesterol that is the origin of heart attacks (3).
On the other hand, it seems that by suppressing oxidative stress reactions, green tea can improve the function of our vascular endothelium (the inner layer of our arteries), where the factors that help maintain blood pressure are secreted. Therefore, this plant can regulate our blood pressure to natural levels (4).
Apparently, losing weight is much easier with the use of green tea, according to some experts in London. The key to this effect seems to be mediated by EGCG, which can inhibit some fat-related enzymes.
By inhibiting these enzymes, green tea seems to allow fat-burning hormones, such as catecholamines, to act without restriction. In this way, we begin to lose weight without realizing it. In fact, experts recommend that we use it in conjunction with exercise to improve the speed and potential of its effect (5).
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- Deusing J. et al (2015). A catechin-enriched green tea extract prevents glucose-induced survival reduction in Caenorhabditis elegans through sir-2.1 and uba-1 dependent hormesis. Fitoterapia. 102:163-70. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2015.03.005.
- Wolfram S. et al (2006). Epigallocatechin gallate supplementation alleviates diabetes in rodents. J Nutr. 136(10):2512-8. Retrieved from PubMed
- Wang ZM, Zhou B, Wang YS, Gong QY, Wang QM, Yan JJ, Gao W, Wang LS. (2011). Black and green tea consumption and the risk of coronary artery disease: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 93(3):506-15. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.005363.
- Xiaoli Peng, Rui Zhou, Bin Wang, Xiaoping Yu, Xiaohong Yang, Kai Liu, and Mantian Mi. (2014). Effect of green tea consumption on blood pressure: A meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials. Scientific Reports. 4: 6251. doi: 10.1038/srep06251
- Hursel R, Viechtbauer W, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. (2009). The effects of green tea on weight loss and weight maintenance: a meta-analysis. Int J Obes (Lond). 33(9):956-61. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2009.135.