Chances are you’ve heard green tea extolled for a variety of health benefits—cancer prevention, cholesterol-lowering effects, and recently, fighting eye diseases like glaucoma. This lends increased credibility to the ancient Chinese proverb: ”Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one.”
Lots of studies have looked at whether green tea can help with weight loss, too. Should you be adding some to your medical weight loss program? Below we sort out the facts from the hype.
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What is Green Tea?
First, let’s look at what green tea is. Green tea, like other teas, is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. What makes green tea different, however, is the way it is processed. Green tea leaves are steamed, preventing oxidation of beneficial compounds in the tea.
So what makes green tea so special? Researchers point to the many polyphenols in green tea, which are derived from catechins—substances that help give tea its bitter taste. Polyphenols have antioxidant properties, and one polyphenol in particular called epigallocatechin gallete—or EGCG—is found in particularly high amounts in green tea, because the steaming process does not destroy it. EGCG, along with other antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, and zeaxanthin, are thought to provide many of the health benefits of green tea.
Can Green Tea Impact Weight Loss?
So what about weight loss? Studies have shown an increase in calorie expenditure and fat oxidation among green tea drinkers versus a placebo or caffeine alone. Notably, a 2006 review of the research concluded that green tea is a ‘natural substance for the management of obesity.’ However, the promise of green tea has been contradicted by other studies showing no effect from green tea on either weight loss or fat loss, or on weight maintenance after weight loss in women.
So what’s the bottom line? The jury’s still not completely in on whether green tea can help with your medical weight loss program. However, even if it doesn’t, it may provide numerous other health benefits, and may be a less-caffeinated alternative to your morning cup of coffee (one cup has roughly a third the caffeine of regular coffee).
Health aspects aside, these tips can ensure your green tea is as tasty as possible:
- When making your tea, start with cold water.
- Steep for three to five minutes to fully bring out the catechins.
- Take care not to overbrew, which can ruin the taste.
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