Health Benefits of Green Tea: Weight Loss, Skin, and More (Science Based)

Health Benefits of Green Tea: Weight Loss, Skin, and More (Science Based)

Green tea is a healthy, refreshing and hydrating drink that you can enjoy hot or cold. Green tea contains antioxidants that help to improve brain health, prevent chronic disease, and boost your cardiovascular health. You can also use green tea to help lose weight and improve your health at the same time.

The health benefits of green tea also include using it to improve your skin tone. Green tea contains compounds that are great for keeping your skin healthy and looking fresh. You can also use green tea to help treat acne prone skin and assist in reducing the appearance of pimples.

In this article, I will examine what scientific research has revealed as to the true health benefits of green tea. You will also find out if science backs up claims on using green tea to lose weight. You will also learn how to use green tea as a cleansing toner for your skin.

What is Green Tea?

Green tea comes from the tea plant Camellia sinensis. Native to East, South and Southeast Asia, but these days cultivated across the world in tropical and subtropical regions for its many wonderful properties. Tea leaves from Camellia sinensis are used to make green tea, black tea, white tea, and oolong tea.

Green tea is made by drying tea leaves; however, they are not fermented as is the case with black tea or oolong tea. This minimal processing of green tea helps to keep its beneficial polyphenolic compounds – these natural antioxidants necessary for good health. (1)

Green Tea vs. Coffee

Green tea (like coffee) also contains caffeine. Green tea contains about 11-20 mg/g of caffeine which is about half the amount of caffeine in black tea (22-28 mg/g). Green tea also contains more catechins (natural antioxidants) than black tea and also high levels of phenolic compounds. (2)

Interestingly, gram for gram, tea contains about the same amount of caffeine as coffee. However, a study found that a cup of tea contains much less caffeine than a cup coffee. A cup of tea has a caffeine content of 28-46 mg whereas a cup of coffee has 107-151 mg caffeine.  This is probably because less green tea leaves are used to make a cup of green tea. (3)

It is difficult to say if green tea is better for you than coffee. Dr. Brunilda Nazario on WebMD says that coffee also has health benefits when consumed in moderation. Both green tea and coffee contain caffeine, antioxidants, and polyphenols. These combined compounds have many health benefits. (4)

Because green tea is not an herbal tea and it contains caffeine, many people avoid drinking green tea before going to bed. However, some studies point to the fact that low-caffeine green tea can improve the quality of sleep and have a calming effect on the mind. (5)

Starting your day with a freshly brewed cup of green tea is a great way to start the day as it can boost your metabolism and give you more energy.

Green Tea Nutrition

Most of the health benefits of drinking green tea come from its high levels of antioxidants.

Green tea contains antioxidant compounds called polyphenols and catechins. For example, flavanols (a type of polyphenol) make up about 30% of the weight of dried green tea leaves. Also, green tea contains a powerful catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG for short. (1)

Researchers have noted that it is not just one antioxidant in green tea that is beneficial. The health-promoting effects of green tea are due to a “synergistic” effect that is the combination of many antioxidant compounds.

Green tea also contains L-theanine, an important amino acid which has a stimulating effect on the brain and can improve cognitive health. Scientists have discovered that L-theanine from tea is unique in that it helps to relax the mind without drowsiness. (6)

Also, the benefits of EGCG in green tea have been linked to improved cardiovascular health. (7)

Green tea also contains trace amounts of nutrients like calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, and vitamins B, C, and E. (8)

Health Benefits of Green Tea

Let’s look in more detail at the many ways you can use green tea to boost your health and make your skin look better.

Green Tea for Weight Loss

Green tea extracts and natural green tea have the potential to help you lose weight quicker and boost your metabolism. There are 0 calories in a cup of green tea without any additive (such as milk or sugar) so it’s a great hydrating drink.

Much research has been done on the fat-burning potential of green tea extracts. Many people buy green tea supplements for weight loss or increase their daily intake of hot green tea.

What does scientific research say about the effects of green tea on losing weight?

Green tea catechins together with caffeine can boost your metabolism (green tea has thermogenic properties). For example, one small study showed that green tea significantly boosted energy expenditure in men. The researchers concluded that “green tea has thermogenic properties and promotes fat oxidation beyond what explained by its caffeine content per se.” (25)

The book Antioxidants in Sport Nutrition reported that one cup of green tea contains about 40 mg of caffeine and up to 100 mg of catechins. A review of many clinical trials revealed that green tea catechins together with caffeine can make you slimmer because they increase energy expenditure and fat metabolism. This effect of green tea can benefit both active individuals and sedentary ones. (26)

Some studies show that green tea extracts can help to boost your efforts in losing weight. For example, green tea supplementation can help to burn more fat (increase fat oxidation) during exercising. Green tea also improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. (39)

Other research has found that green tea extract containing 583 mg of catechins helped to burn fat and can help fight against obesity. For example, a trial involving men and women found that green tea extract with high catechin content helped lower body weight and reduce body fat in a 12-week period. (40)

The study found that green tea extract has the added advantage in helping to improve your cardiovascular health while losing weight. Researchers concluded that long-term consumption of catechins from green tea can help lower blood pressure and reduce body fat in men and women. (40)

Another study looked at the anti-obesity effects of three major components of green tea: catechins, caffeine and L-theanine. It concluded that caffeine and L-theanine in green tea can help prevent weight gain and fat accumulation. (46)

However, other studies have proved inconclusive and say that green tea is only beneficial for short-term weight loss. (45)

You can boost the weight loss properties of green tea by adding some lemon juice to your tea. There are some scientific studies about using lemon juice for weight loss.

Green Tea Benefits for Your Skin

The antioxidants in green tea benefit your skin, help prevent the appearance of fine lines and have anti aging effect.

In fact, there is evidence to support the fact that consuming green tea, taking green tea supplements, and using green tea topically can all benefit your skin.

Scientists have discovered that green tea polyphenols can help prevent the effect of UV light damage. Some reports show that regularly consuming green tea can prevent some DNA cell damage caused by UV radiation. Topical preparations containing green tea can also benefit your skin because they have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and photoprotective properties. (32)

Another study found that drinking preparations containing green tea extracts improved skin texture and lessened the appearance of fine wrinkles. The researchers concluded that green tea extracts can be an effective antioxidant for the skin. (33)

An analysis of the benefits of green tea on the skin found that it has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticarcinogenic effects on the skin. (34)

You can also use pure green tea to cleanse your skin if you suffer from acne. A review of trials on green tea found that lotions containing green tea can help reduce the number of acne pimples on the face. Also, EGCG from green tea significantly reduces skin inflammation associated with acne vulgaris. (35)

Lotions with green tea are also beneficial in treating acne and reducing the number of acne lesions. (36) Another effect of green tea on acne-prone skin is to reduce the production of sebum. (37)

Find out other effective homemade face masks for acne.

How to make your own green tea toner for great-looking skin

If you want to improve the appearance of your skin using green tea, here is an easy way to make your own green tea facial toner at home.

  1. Put 2 tbsp. loose green tea leaves or 1 green tea bag in a cup of boiling water.
  2. Cover and allow to infuse for 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Strain the tea into a glass container that is sealable and allow to cool.
  4. Dip a clean cotton ball into the green tea toner and use to gently cleanse your skin.
  5. Leave to dry. You don’t need to rinse the green tea toner off your skin.

The green tea skin toner will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days. Always remember to use a clean cotton ball and avoid “re-dipping” a used cotton ball in the toner mixture.

Green Tea Has Compounds That Are Good for Your Heart

Green tea is good to drink every day because it contains antioxidants that boost your cardiac health.

One population-based cohort study found that regular green tea consumption helps lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers found that drinking on average 5 small cups (500 mL or more) of green tea a day lowers the risk of death from cardiovascular disease in women by 31%. The study concluded that there is plenty of evidence from trials that green tea has many benefits for heart health. (9)

Other studies have shown that moderate consumption of caffeinated drinks such as green tea can help to prevent the buildup of plaque in arteries. (10)

Also, drinking a few cups of green tea every day is associated with a lower risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. (11)

Find out what other simple habits can help improve your heart health as well as drinking green tea regularly.

Green Tea Helps to Lower LDL and Total Cholesterol Levels

One of the reasons why drinking green tea is good for you and your cardio health is that it helps lower cholesterol.

A meta-analysis of 14 randomized controlled trials found that consuming green tea regularly has a marked impact on cholesterol levels. Scientists found that catechins in green tea and green tea supplements can help lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad” type of cholesterol). (12)

Other studies point to the fact that green tea compounds have a good effect on cardiovascular health because they don’t affect HDL cholesterol – or “good” cholesterol. (13)

Did you know that you can also drink apple cider vinegar to help lower cholesterol?

Green Tea May Lower Blood Pressure

Polyphenols in green tea also have a positive effect on blood pressure and can help to lower hypertension (high blood pressure).

One meta-analysis of 13 trials found that regularly drinking 2 cups of green tea a day can have a beneficial effect on preventing cardiovascular disease. This was attributed to the fact that green tea consumption helps to lower blood pressure. Researchers suggested that green tea benefits people with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension. (14)

If you don’t want to drink a lot of green tea every day, green tea dietary supplements can help lower blood pressure. One clinical trial found that green tea pills benefit people with prehypertension (elevated blood pressure). Taking green tea extract supplements helped to significantly decrease blood pressure in a 4-week period. (15)

Learn about other practical steps you can take to get your blood pressure down without drugs.

Green Tea Promotes Healthy Brain Function

Green tea doesn’t make you sleepy but can still have a calming effect on your mind.

A 2017 review on the health benefits of green tea found that its compounds like L-theanine, caffeine, and EGCG help improve cognitive function. Scientists found that green tea can boost mental clarity, helps you to relax, and improves mental performance. (16)

Researchers also found that matcha tea (also called Japanese green tea) has an even better effect on the brain than green tea. This is because matcha tea contains higher proportions of phytochemicals than green tea. (16) You can find out more about the health benefits of matcha tea.

Consuming a drink with green tea leaves can also have an antidepressant effect on the mind. Researchers have found that green tea polyphenols help reduce symptoms of depression. (17)

Drinking 3 or 4 cups of green tea a day can also help to reduce symptoms of mild depression in older adults. (18)

One study found that flavonoids in green tea extracts help to increase levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. These neurotransmitters play an important role in healthy brain function and are connected to feelings of well-being and happiness. (19)

Other studies point to the fact that L-theanine and caffeine in green tea work together to improve cognitive functions. (20)

Find out what you can do if you have depression to treat your symptoms naturally.

Green Tea Can Protect Against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease

Because amino acids and enzymes in green tea have a beneficial effect on brain health, green tea can help prevent certain neurodegenerative diseases.

Scientists found that flavonoids in green tea like luteolin and ECGC help to protect brain cells. These antioxidants reduce levels of toxins in the brain and also help protect against the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. (21)

Other scientific research has discovered that drinking green or black tea can help protect against Parkinson’s disease. Antioxidants in green tea and black tea help to reduce the effects of oxidative stress in the brain. (22)

Learn about other supplements that may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease because of their benefit to your brain health.

Green Tea Can Help Control Blood Glucose Levels and Help Manage Diabetes

Regularly drinking unsweetened green tea can benefit you if you suffer from diabetes.

Medical research has discovered that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect of catechins in green tea may help control type 2 diabetes. For example, EGCG helps to reduce the effects of oxidative stress and regulate insulin sensitivity. Researchers suggested that drinking 2 or 3 cups of green tea is enough to get adequate amounts of antioxidants to regulate insulin sensitivity. (23)

Other trials have found that green tea polyphenols also have an antidiabetic effect. Researchers found that consuming green tea boosts glucose metabolism in humans and can help control blood glucose levels after eating. (24)

Green tea is just one of the many foods to control type 2 diabetes that you can incorporate into your diet.

Green Tea Has Powerful Antioxidants That May Prevent Cancer

Extracts from green tea contain antioxidants that have shown to have anticancer properties.

The journal Molecules and Cells reported that EGCG compounds in green tea can help to prevent and treat certain cancers. Some trials report that drinking 10 small cups of green tea a day can help delay the onset of cancer in women. Taking 600 mg green tea catechins daily may also help in treating early prostate cancer. (29)

A review of studies about the anticancer properties of green tea shows promising results in using green tea to prevent the spread of cancer and helping to treat certain cancers. The review mention that Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a major component of green tea, has been shown to inhibit tumor invasion and angiogenesis which are essential for tumor growth and metastasis. (30)

However, Cancer Research UK says that there is no definite proof in using green tea to treat cancer. Although lab studies show that green tea extracts could have a therapeutic effect in cancer treatment, more research needs to be done. (31)

Did you know that green tea is just one of the many foods with cancer-fighting properties?

Green Tea is Antibacterial and Can Improve Dental Health

The antimicrobial effect of green tea can help to reduce levels of oral bacteria and prevent dental problems.

Research published in the journal Pharmacognosy Review found that green tea catechins also have antibacterial properties. Studies show that there should be enough antibacterial properties in a cup of brewed green tea to kill off strains of Streptococcus mutans bacteria. (27)

Because of its beneficial effect in improving microflora of your mouth, scientists recommend drinking a cup of green tea with meals. This can help to prevent the formation of plaque and even reduce occurrences of gum disease. (28)

Find out how you can remove plaque naturally and how to get rid of gum infection naturally.

Is It Possible to Drink Too Much Green Tea?

Increasing your daily intake of green tea has many health benefits. The high levels of antioxidants in green tea can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and degenerative brain disease.

How much green tea do you need to drink to get the health benefits? Some studies point to the fact that consuming 2 or 3 cups of green tea can help reduce your risk of a heart attack. However, ideally you need to drink around 10 cups of green tea to lower your LDL cholesterol levels. (41)

From reviewing many studies, it would seem that the healthiest way to drink green tea would be to consume around 5 cups a day.

Drinking a cup of green tea every 2 or 3 hours during the day should help to keep you mentally alert and prevent fatigue during the day. Remember that green tea doesn’t make you feel sleepy, so you may want to avoid drinking green tea a few hours before going to bed.

How much green tea can you safely consume in a day? Scientists report that the recommended amount of caffeine per day shouldn’t exceed 300 mg. (42) One serving of green tea (about 2 grams in 240 ml hot water) contains between 20 and 40 mg of caffeine. (2)

So, depending on the strength of the green tea, you shouldn’t exceed between 7 and 10 cups of green tea per day.

Side Effects of Green Tea

Green tea from the Camellia sinensis plant is generally safe for adults to drink in moderate amounts.

It’s important to remember that green tea contains caffeine and consuming large amounts of caffeine can bring on feelings of anxiety and possibly headaches.

It is good to be aware that many of the benefits of green tea are due to its catechins, polyphenols, and caffeine content. Some studies have shown that green tea without caffeine doesn’t have the same therapeutic effect. (44)

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