Green Tea

I often get asked if coffee is bad. It’s not really a yes or no answer, and I tackled that question a few months ago, here. Some people worry they drink too much coffee, and try incorporating green tea into their diet to get the caffeine without the negative side effects of coffee. Green tea’s health benefits have been talked about for a long time now, and there are even products like green tea ice cream and Starbucks’ green tea latte (which I think is pretty gross because it’s this limey-green color, which just cannot be natural…).

Last week, my parents sent me the Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter. My aunt Julie gave them a subscription as a gift, because they love reading about health and nutrition (a love I seemed to inherit!). There is an article in there about green tea, and I found it interesting and thought it would be good to reiterate the importance of green tea in the diet.

SO, consider this a refresher/reminder on why we should all be drinking green tea!

The researcher at Tufts who is studying the many health benefits of green tea says we can almost think of green tea as a plant food. Green tea comes from the leaves of the camellia sinesis bush and contains many natural antioxidants. Green tea has a higher level of antioxidants than other teas because of the way it is processed. As we know, the more processed a food, the fewer nutrients there are within that food. Green tea leaves are withered and steamed, and that’s it. Other teas go through further levels of processing, including fermenting, which alters the plant such that some antioxidants are lost.

Traditionally, green tea was used as a stimulant, diuretic and astringent, and was known to protect the heart, regulate blood sugar, improve digestion, treat gas or bloating, and strengthen the mind. Recent studies have shown that people in China and India, who have been using green tea for half a million years, were onto something:

  • A 2006 study found that those who drink 5+ cups of green tea per day have a 26% lower risk of death by cardiovascular disease than those who drink 1 or fewer cups per day.
  • The polyphenols in green tea may help reduce plaque buildup on teeth and prevent cavities and tooth decay.
  • The Cholesterol Treatment Center in New Hampshire conducted a study and found that green tea catechins (antioxidants) may help lower LDL cholesterol and increase vascular function.
  • Green tea may inhibit growth of early-stage cancer cells in those who drink at least 2 cups per day.
  • Green tea can help with weight loss, particularly abdominal fat. Drinking 2-3 cups per day can lower triglyceride levels and BMI.
  • The antioxidants in green tea can combat the growth of viruses and bad bacteria. They also help keep us young by reducing DNA damages associated with aging.

Most of us have tried green tea and many people enjoy it. The hard part, at least for me, is drinking enough of it to reap all of the health benefits listed above. Here are some ideas for ways to incorporate green tea into your diet:

  • Brew a big pot of green tea and keep it in a pitcher in your fridge. Add to smoothies in place of juice.
  • When you make iced tea this summer, make it half green tea, half regular. The taste won’t be altered much and you’ll get the extra antioxidants.
  • Try adding green tea to soups. They usually call for water anyway, so green tea will be an easy substitution.
  • One or two days per week, have green tea instead of coffee.
  • Add honey, fresh lemon, or ginger to your green tea to make it more enjoyable and contribute to the health benefits.
  • Remember in December when I told you about Drazil Foods? Try adding green tea to your kids’ smoothies or fruit juices so they can benefit from the antioxidants too!


  1. A - This is a wonderful reminder of how easy it is to add nutrients to our day. Green tea is an easy reprieve from coffee.

  2. really good advice to have green tea instead of coffee a couple days a week. I love the taste of coffee, but a little sacrifice would be good for me.