More on Green Tea
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.
Green Tea Straight Up
But the best way to get the most out of green tea — even if your main goal is losing weight — is to drink it.
“Taken altogether, the evidence certainly suggests that incorporating at least a few cups of green tea every day will positively affect your health,” says Diane McKay, PhD, a Tufts University scientist who studies antioxidants. “It’s not going to cure anything and it shouldn’t be consumed as a drug, but it can complement the rest of the diet.”
McCullough bears the same reminder: eat your fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, and nuts — and go ahead, drink as much green tea as you want.
“I don’t think it can hurt to drink it. I’d focus on dietary sources rather than supplements because there are several compounds in green tea that might need to be consumed together. We just don’t know yet,” she says.