Health Benefits of Green Tea
Experts explain green tea's potential benefits for everything from fighting cancer to helping your heart.
Green Tea vs. Cancer continued...
Still, it's difficult not to be intrigued by a few human studies that have shown that drinking at least two cups of green tea daily inhibits cancer growth.
One of them, a study conducted in Japan that involved nearly 500 Japanese women with Stage I and Stage II breast cancer, found that increased green tea consumption before and after surgery was associated with lower recurrence of the cancers.
Studies in China have shown that the more green tea that participants drank, the less the risk of developing stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and colorectal cancer.
Finally, a recent analysis of 22 studies that probed the correlation between high tea consumption and reduced risk for lung cancer concluded that by increasing your daily intake of green (not black) tea by two cups may reduce the risk of developing lung cancer by 18%.
Is Green Tea Good for Your Heart?
It seems to be, but there are conflicting results of a few epidemiological studies conducted in the East and West.
In a study that involved 500 Japanese men and women, researchers found that drinking at least four cups of green tea every day may be related to the reduced severity of coronary heart disease among the male participants.
A Dutch study of more than 3,000 men and women found that the more tea consumed, the less severe the clogging of the heart's blood vessels, especially in women.
As Goldberg suggests, lifestyle and overall diet are critical to the outcomes of these studies.
But green tea's antioxidants are dilators, she says, because they improve the flexibility of blood vessels and make them less vulnerable to clogging -- and antioxidant-rich blueberries and pomegranates do the same.
"I think people should know these are important studies, that everyday foods that are an option may actually have health benefits," Goldberg says. "I think green tea, because of its antioxidant value, may have heart benefits, but it's not something we regularly prescribe to people, because there isn't as much evidence as there is in exercise's ability to improve heart health."
Green Tea and Weight
Green tea and its extract have been shown to fight obesity and lower LDL "bad" cholesterol -- two risk factors for heart disease and diabetes -- but in very limited studies. One study in the Netherlands and a study in Japan showed that green tea did both.
In the Dutch study, participants who drank caffeinated green tea lost more weight, but even those who typically drank the decaf variety saw a decrease in their waistlines and body weight. Researchers speculated that the caffeine helps with fat oxidation.
In the Japanese study, 240 men and women were given varying amounts of green tea extract for three months. Those who got the highest amount lost fat and weight and had lower blood pressure and lower LDL "bad" cholesterol.