Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Uses and Benefits of Green Tea

In Asian countries like China, Japan and India, green tea is held in high esteem. It is a brew thought to purify the body, delight the senses and lift the spirits.

For at least fifteen years, medical researchers around the world have been looking at green tea. Although black and oolong tea also contain some of the same preventive compounds, green tea is thought to contain the highest and most effective levels.

Men who drink at least 10 cups of green tea a day have lower cholesterol and may be less likely to suffer from heart disease, according to a Japanese study. The findings lend support to previous test tube and animal studies that suggest chemicals in green tea may ward off heart disease. The association between green tea and serum total cholesterol implies that green tea may act preventively against cardiovascular disease.

Researchers interviewed 1,371 men over the age of 40, and took their blood samples. Average cholesterol levels were about 183 among those who drank at least 10 cups of green tea a day compared to 194 among those who drank less than four cups a day. Researchers said the difference was big enough to suggest a health benefit from green tea.

Green tea also contains vitamin C; the amount varies depending on the type of leaf, but the average in two small cups of brewed tea is nearly equal to that in a cup of orange juice. In Asia, green tea was originally used by Zen monks to keep awake during long periods of meditation. A mild stimulant, it contains less caffeine than black tea and half the caffeine of coffee.

Green tea also apparently has antibacterial qualities, which were discovered 5,000 years ago by the Chinese, who used it to purify drinking water. The tea, which contains substantial amounts of fluoride, is also being studied in both US and Asia as a preventative for dental plaque.

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