The first thing you need to understand is that not all green tea was created equal by the tea gods. The major reason why green tea is seen as a health drink is because it contains the antioxidant EGCG. Researchers tested 26 different types of green tea drinks and supplements to find that most were nothing more than sugar and water, with a minimal amount of green tea extract and high levels of caffeine. In fact, while green tea extract supplements included anything between 22 and 300 mgs of EGCG per serving, most green tea beverages sold in bottles had no more than 4mg per serving. Yes, you should probably check that box.
Dr. Tod Cooperman, the president of ConsumerLab.com, stated in an interview with the New York Times that some of the tea bags tested were in fact contaminated with a high percentage of lead. This is because the green tea shrub can absorb lead from the ground at a much faster rate than other botanical plants resulting in lead build-up on the leaf surface, which invariably finds its way into the final packaged product.
Those trying to lose weight drink copious amounts of green tea thinking it’s a great source of anti-oxidants and will help them meet their weight loss goal sooner. Shonaali Sabherwal, a certified macrobiotic food consultant and instructor, dispels a few myths:
“Eating a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables like carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peaches, and apricots will offer you a good dose of antioxidants, without having to resort to buying expensive green teas and supplements with green tea extracts”, she says. “In fact, if you're exercising to lose weight, your antioxidants should rather come from whole foods and not from supplements or antioxidant-enhanced food products. This is because exercise results in an increase in free radicals, but also more oxidation. By adding antioxidants post your workout, you take away from the positives of this action”, she added.
Truth is, research which supports the benefits of green tea is insufficient, because it isn’t clear whether it is actually tea or the catechins in it that result in the health benefits. Some experts believe that drinking a lot of green tea, or using the extracts in supplement form excessively, can increase the risk of liver problems or even result in liver toxicity. Furthermore, green tea can interact with many prescription medications, so mention that you drink it to your doctor. Currently, study results are conflicted about the connection between green tea and disease prevention.
There is no doubt that green tea is a wonderful beverage. But we don’t choose green tea because we love the taste; we believe it can help lower the risk of heart disease and cancer and help us lose weight by speeding up metabolism. There’s no doubt it is good for you, but it is important to not look at it is as an easy quick fix that’s the answer to your health problems.
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