The legend goes that one day, Chinese Emperor Shennong had a fateful accident. He was handed a cup of water that had been boiled with a dead tea leaf inside. The servant’s mistake had accidentally produced one of the most popular drinks in history: tea. Though discovered around the year 2737 BCE, it wasn’t until more than three thousand years later that green tea came to the masses.
Around 800 AD, writer and tea enthusiast Lu Yu wrote a book called The Classic of Tea. This ancient tome explored the wondrous benefits of green tea and the culture that surrounded it. It wasn’t long before the common people of China embraced green tea for both pleasure and for its medicinal purposes.
Over the next twelve hundred years, green tea slowly found its way around the world into the homes of billions of people. If you don’t have a packet ready to brew in your pantry, you could be missing out on several productive health benefits.
Meet the Catechin
You may not have heard of catechins, but these compounds have several benefits to your overall health, and green tea is chock full of a catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).
EGCG is an extremely potent substance that acts as an antioxidant, cell protector and one of the most critical healing components in green tea. In fact, some studies suggest that EGCG is valuable in the treatment of a variety of diseases.
Decrease Your Odds of Cancer
Another benefit of EGCG is its antioxidant properties. Several studies indicate that continued use of antioxidants can actually lower your odds of getting certain kinds of cancer.
- Women can lower their odds of getting breast cancer by as much as 30%
- Men can diminish the odds of getting prostate cancer
- Those at risk for colorectal cancer were more than 40% less likely to develop the disease
Those are just some of the diseases that EGCG could impact positively! There’s still a lot we don’t know, but the prospects are good.
Control the Jitters
Across the United States, millions of people wake up and immediately brew a cup (or four) of coffee. The active ingredient in coffee, caffeine, has demonstrable links to improved brain performance and health. The benefits of caffeine don’t stop there. It’s also a mood elevator and improves reaction time and short-term memory. It also comes with a few potential side effects, like sweating, upset stomach and the jitters.
Green tea contains caffeine, but not enough to cause the physical side effects. Green tea also takes the brain-boosting benefits to another level because it contains an amino acid called L-theanine that reduces anxiety and promotes the production of dopamine and alpha waves.
Recent studies suggest caffeine and L-theanine work together to stimulate your brain in a much more consistent, long-lasting way than coffee.
Improve Your Breath
There’s nothing worse than running into someone with a bad case of coffee breath, and there’s nothing more embarrassing than someone keeping their distance because you’re guilty. That won’t happen with green tea. Some research indicates that green tea can actually improve your breath in a way coffee simply cannot match.
What’s more, some of the ingredients in green tea have been linked to improved oral health. Some of the catechins in green tea can hinder the growth of the oral bacteria that leads to tooth decay. That said, a study hasn’t been conducted that tests the direct connection between consuming green tea and the same positive benefits direct consumption of those catechins offer.
Help Your Heart
As we age, it’s more essential than ever to protect our hearts. Drinking green tea every day can do just that by lowering your cholesterol and preventing complications that lead to heart disease. In fact, one study illustrated that drinking green tea can reduce the odds of getting heart disease by as much as 30%!
Improve Your Longevity
If the rest of the benefits of drinking green tea weren’t enough, one massive study conducted in Japan suggests that green tea can help you live longer. In observing more than 40,000 people, the study indicated that women could lower their risk of death by more than 20%. Men could lower their risk by more than 10%.
For more than three thousand years, people have been enjoying green tea for its brisk taste. Only recently have those same people realized a direct connection between drinking green tea and overall wellbeing. Whether you’re after it for the caffeine boost or you want to take advantage of its heart-healthy benefits, there’s no wrong reason to take a week and sub out your favorite brand of coffee for a trial run of green tea.