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The Health Benefits of Green Tea

Green Tea

Sandra Webster

The medicinal benefits of green tea have been known of by the Chinese since ancient times. Green tea has been used to treat everything from headaches to depression. Recent studies have shown that drinking green tea helps lower total cholesterol levels, and may help to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Green tea is rich in epigallocatchin gallate (EGCG), which is a powerful anti-oxidant.

Green, oolong, and black teas all come from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, yet they do not all possess similar health-giving properties. The difference comes from the processing. Green tea leaves are steamed, which prevents the EGCG compound from oxidizing. Black and oolong teas are made from fermented leaves. This causes the EGCG to be converted into other compounds that are not as effective in preventing diseases.

Recent studies in Switzerland suggest that green tea may be beneficial in weight loss. Men given a combination of caffeine and green tea extract were found by researchers to burn more calories than those who were given just caffeine or a placebo.

Controversy remains over how many cups of green tea you should drink a day to reap optimal health benefits. Four or five cups daily seem to be most beneficial. You may drink more if you desire, but further research is needed to prove any additional health benefits.

Brewing a perfect cup of green tea is important in maintaining the health benefits as well as preserving the flavour. Improper preparation and overbrewing can make the tea taste "gassy." First bring cold water to a boil, then turn off or unplug the kettle and let it stand for 3 minutes. Pour the heated water over the tea or tea bag and allow it to steep for up to three minutes. Use one bag per cup, or one to two teaspoons depending on the variety of tea that you are using. Allow the tea to cool for three more minutes. Now enjoy! 

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