In general, green tea is extremely rich in antioxidants, which help protect the body from harmful free radicals. Free radicals can attack, damage and destroy organic material, causing damage and death in almost all living things. Protection from these free radicals is green tea’s largest health benefit.
Polyphenols have been linked with heart disease and cancer prevention. High concentrations of polyphenols are found in green tea leaves and give it a slight bitter taste. The bitter taste is a small price to pay considering this health benefit.
Tannins are produced by all plants and are somewhat resistant to digestion. Tannins in green tea shrink tissues and contract proteins in the skin and mucosa.
Catechins are present in green tea in significant quantities. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) may be the most powerful of the catechins found in green tea and makes up 10-50% of the catechin content. EGCG provides very powerful antioxidant activity.
Flavonoids are present in green tea and are also found in most fresh fruits and vegetables. They protect against infection and give fruits and vegetables their bright colors. Parents with children in school would agree that this is a great health benefit.
Theanine is a unique amino acid found in green tea leaves. It produces a tranquilizing effect in the brain, making green tea a good stress reliever. The tea plant also converts theanine into catechins, meaning that the tea leaves can be higher in catechins or higher in theanine, depending on what part of the growing season the tea leaves are harvested. Either way, green tea still contains great benefits to our health.
Green tea also contains caffeine, which can cause insomnia. So far, this is the only negative side effect found from drinking green tea. However, it contains approximately half the caffeine found in regular coffee.
Because of the many health benefits of green tea, it has gained popularity in recent years. It can be found in almost any grocery store in many forms. In Asia they have been drinking green tea and taking advantage of the health benefits for years. In China it is said that drinking green tea is better than taking medicine!