Friday, November 13, 2009

Drinking Green!

No, not St. Patrick's Day green beer, and not blended hemp and alfalfa drinks (though they are indeed quite nutritious). And certainly not your favorite mint martini.

Today, it's all about drinking green tea.

I 1st fell in love with green tea about 15 years ago on my 1st trip to China.
While Starbucks and other coffee houses are common in most Chinese cities these days, back then it was actually quite difficult for a tourist to find any cup of coffee at all, much less one that didn't look and taste a lot like watered down brown tea.

So I drank a lot of green tea on that trip, and have been ever since! Fortunately, there are lots of great health benefits to drinking green tea, so my new found habit actually turned out to be a good one! The Chinese, of course, have been drinking green tea and using it medicinally to treat ailments from headaches to depression for 4000 years!

And just when you thought that Vitamin D was the miracle Nutrient, get this:

Furthermore, Green Tea consumption ...
  1. Improves skin clarity;
  2. Reduces cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation; and
  3. Aids in digestion
Wow. But if that weren't enough, it also assists in weight loss! Research by Japanese and other researchers suggest that five cups of green tea a day consumes an additional 70 to 80 extra calories through a process called thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is, at the most basic level, the heat produced when energy sources are converted to energy. And while a good deal of green tea's thermogenetic effect can be attributed to it's caffeine content, researchers around the world have found that it's anti-oxidant content contributes more.

And that's what makes Green Tea So Special!

It is rich in catechin polyphenols, which are flavenoids. Flavenoids, of course, are well documented to be hightly effective anti-oxidants. Besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, antioxidants kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissue.

With regards to green tea, the specific catechin that makes it particularly beneficial is
epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).

In addition to being a powerful anti-oxidant, EGCG also been effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels, inhibits the abnormal formation of blood clots, and, most recently, has is under investigation in the prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS, and other immunity system diseases.

How much Green Tea should I drink?

Answers to this question will vary, but most scientists agree that 3 or more cups per day is the minimum you'll need to see benefit. On the upside, other than the normal side effects of too much caffeine, very little adverse effect to getting too much EGCG has been found.

EXCEPT FOR PREGNANT WOMEN, where intake should be restricted.

Another tip I learned from the Chinese nearly 20 years ago was that green tea can be infused many , many times. Add hot water to steep. Drink it down, then add more hot water to re-steep the same tea. Repeat as many times as you like. The flavor tapers off, of course, and each additional cup contains decreasing amounts of caffeine (and EGCG), but you can enjoy something hot to drink all day long without getting the jitters.

Looking for more useful tips on Eating Light, Eating Healthy, and Eating Often? Ask me about our New Nutrition Together program!

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