Growing numbers of people are now regularly drinking herbal teas, such as chamomile tea and hibiscus tea, for their health benefits. One of the most popular of these healthy beverages is green tea. Not only does it have an earthy, delicious taste, but it is packed with numerous compounds that have a whole range of health benefits.
Among green tea’s most impactful health properties are its antioxidant health benefits. Whether taken as a tea, or as an extract in supplement form, green tea is brimming with powerful antioxidants, in the form of a particular type of polyphenols called flavenoids. These compounds have been shown to have a number of beneficial effects for your body, including helping to prevent cancer and boosting your immune system.
Antioxidant Properties and Benefits
Antioxidants are chemical compounds which act to limit the damage caused by free radicals inside the body. Free radicals are highly chemically reactive, and are created by molecules in your body undergoing oxidation. Antioxidants inhibit oxidation, thereby reducing the production of destructive free radicals.
Too many free radicals in your body can lead to a chain-reaction of cellular damage that can contribute to an increased risk of developing cancer. In addition, having excessive amounts of free radicals causes damage to all internal organs and tissues, which can contribute to premature aging and various degenerative health conditions.
Because antioxidants act to inhibit the production of free radicals, they can be a powerful tool for preventing damage to your cells, tissues, and organs. Antioxidants may be critical for helping to prevent the following diseases and health conditions:
- Cancer and Tumors – Free radicals can actually damage the DNA contained in your cells. Damaged DNA can cause cells to malfunction and start reproducing out of control, leading to cancer and tumors.
- Heart Disease – Oxidized cholesterol tends to attach to the walls of arteries. When your immune system attacks this cholesterol, it can cause plaque to build-up in blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
- Dementia – It has been found that the brains of people who suffered from degenerative cognitive conditions, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, showed signs of damage caused by free radicals.
- Weakened Immune System – Free radicals attack and damage the various cells of your immune system. This results in an overall weaker immune system, increasing your general risk of illness, disease, and degenerative health conditions.
Because of all the potential health consequences of having too many free radicals roaming around your body, it is important that we get sufficient antioxidants to reduce their effects. Green tea is a great way to increase your intake of antioxidants each day.
How Much Green Tea Should You Take?
To get the maximum antioxidant benefits of green tea, or green tea extract, you need to make sure you are not only getting a good quality green tea product, but also taking the right amount. The amount of green tea or extract you should take is based on the amount of antioxidant polyphenols it contains. The suggested daily intake of polyphenols is 240 to 320 milligrams per day.
- Green Tea – Depending the brand and the strength of your tea, 2-3 cups per day should supply the daily suggested requirement of polyphenols.
- Green Tea Extract – When taking an extract supplement, be sure to look at how much of the product has been standardized to contain polyphenols. For example, an extract might say 300mg on the bottle, but the label says it is 20% standardize for polyphenols. This means you are only getting 60mg of the antioxidant polyphenols. Try to adjust the dosage to ensure you are getting the suggested range of 240 t0 320 milligrams of polyphenols per day (not per serving).
Because green tea contains caffeine, do not take too much. Depending on the brand and strength, a cup of green tea will usually contain somewhere between 25-50 milligrams of caffeine. For comparison, the average cup of coffee contains around 100 milligrams of caffeine.
The caffeine content of green tea extract varies by a large amount depending on the brand. If you have a sensitivity to caffeine, or if you should avoid it for any reason, then be sure to thoroughly check the label of your supplement so you know exactly how much caffeine you will be getting.
How to Prepare Green Tea
Here are a few simple guidelines for making the perfect cup of green tea, and making sure you are getting the maximum antioxidant benefits:
- Do not buy green tea in bottles or cans. Processed varieties of green tea have been found to have very few polyphenols.
- Loose leafs and tea bags are both fine to use. Both methods impart plenty of antioxidants into your tea. Tea bags tend to be easier to use and create less mess.
- Use green tea from Japan, not China. Many green teas that come from China have been found to contain high levels of lead. Green teas from Japan tend to be much more healthy.
- Do not use boiling water. Heat water until it is just shy of boiling. The ideal temperature of water for brewing green tea is between 80 and 90 degrees Celsius.
- Immediately after removing the water from the heat, pour it over the tea bags or leaves in a teapot or cup. Let the tea steep for about 3-5 minutes depending on how strong you like your tea.
- To retain the effectiveness of more of the antioxidant compounds, squeeze some lemon juice into your tea. The acid helps the antioxidants to remain more stable during digestion.
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