A hot cup of green tea is one of the healthiest beverages today. Don’t believe us, but countless studies have shown and nutritionists will agree too that it is heart healthy, can improve eyesight and prevent age-related diseases. It has its roots in China and originates from the plant species camellia sinensis. The difference between green tea and black tea lies in the method of processing. Green tea leaves undergo minimal oxidation during processing.
Green tea benefits - why is it good for you?
According to Dr. Shikha Sharma, a preventive healthcare nutrition expert, "It is very interesting to see how green tea has caught up in India. It is now widely available, even in government offices. Green tea offers multiple benefits. It contains no caffeine and has polyphenols which are natural detoxifiers. They help to fight cholesterol and arthritis. Consumption of black tea and coffee can adversely affect the ratio of unhealthy to healthy bacteria in the body whereas green tea makes sure no healthy bacteria is killed. Further, green tea also helps with weight loss and age related diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease."
Green tea and its extracts have long been studied for cancer prevention. A new research led by an Indian origin scientist Nagi Kumar at the Moffitt Cancer Centre in the US suggests that the consumption of green tea may prevent prostate cancer in men with high risk of developing the disease. They assessed the safety and effectiveness of the active components in green tea to prevent cancer development in men who have premalignant lesions. The study was published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.
The research included administration of decaffeinated green tea capsules called Polyphenon E that contained a mixture of green tea substance called ‘catechins’ twice a day. Researchers observed and compared the effects of Polyphenon E in 49 men to placebo tablets in 48 men over a one year treatment period.
The resulting laboratory tests have shown that catechins inhibit cancer cell growth, motility and invasion and stimulate the death of cancer cells. They further observed that men who had taken the green tea capsule showed a significant decrease in Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) levels. PSA is a biomarker that, in combination with other risk factors, is used to screen patients for prostate cancer and a high level of PSA in the body signifies a higher risk of prostate cancer.
The study further noted that green tea catechins also prevent and reduce tumour growth in animal models. Catechins are known to function as powerful antioxidants, aiding in the reduction of free radicals in the body and protecting cells and molecules from damage. Free radicals play a major role in aging and related diseases.
Twenty percent of the world’s green tea is consumed in Asian countries where prostate cancer death rates have been observed to be among the lowest in the world, the researchers have noted.
"Cancer is less prevalent in the Asian countries where green tea is consumed in great quantities. In Japanese culture, people consume about 3-4 portions of green tea. It helps in the prevention of various types of cancer due to its positive affect on health and immunity. However, it cannot be taken alone as a curative for the disease,” says Dr. Shikha Sharma.