Green tea, like black tea and oolong tea, is derived from the tea plant and it is thought to have originated in the area of the world that now encompasses western China, northern India and the country of Tibet.
Chinese legend holds that tea was discovered by the emperor Shen- Nung in the year 2737 B.C. The story holds that the leaves from a wild tea bush accidentally fell in a pot of water the emperor was boiling, and a new drink was born. No matter what its provenance, tea is the most popular drink in the world, and green tea in particular is thought to have many important health benefits.
Tea has been mentioned in literature and recorded history for thousands of years, with the earliest mention of tea thought to have occurred in the year 59 B.C. By the year 780 A.D., marked by the publication of a book by Lu Yu called The Classic of Tea, the cultivation and brewing of tea was considered a fine art.
The tradition of India holds that tea was discovered by the Buddhist monk known as Siddhartha sometime in the sixth century. The legend holds that Siddhartha, a former prince turned monk, traveled north from India to China, vowing to meditate without sleeping for a period of nine years. After he reached Canton in the year 519 A.D., after meditating for five years, Siddhartha was overcome by overwhelming drowsiness. As if by divine inspiration, Siddhartha chewed the leaves of a nearby tree. After chewing these leaves, his drowsiness vanished and a feeling of alertness returned.
It was of course the tea tree that provided these remarkable effects, and allowed him to keep his vow of a nonstop nine-year meditation. The legend goes that Siddhartha carried these magical leaves with him as he continued his journey to the land of Japan. Other Buddhist monks quickly came to see the value of tea, and they used it to remain alert while meditating. These Buddhist monks used tea to create a simple drinking ritual that would be later formalized as the well-known Japanese tea ceremony.
From Japan, where tea was widely consumed by the ninth century, tea continued to spread its influence to the island of Java, the Dutch East Indies and many other corners of the world. By the 16th century, European traders coming to and from the Far East brought tea to the European continent, and by the 18th century, the influence of tea had spread across Europe, including of course England, where it remains the national drink to this day.
In the world today, it is not China but India that is the number one tea producer. Other major tea producing countries include Sri Lanka, Kenya, Indonesia, Turkey, Russia, Iran, the United States and Bangladesh.
Major benefits of green tea
There are many healthful drinks on the market, but few enjoy the strong reputation of the superfood known as green tea. For thousands of years the Chinese have known about the benefits of green tea, and this drink has been used to treat everything from headaches and depression to insomnia and digestive problems.
Green tea has shown significant promise at fighting many types of cancer. In one frequently cited study, there was a sixty percent decrease in the risk of esophageal cancer among those who drank green tea on a regular basis. The study found that a compound contained in green tea was able to inhibit the formation of cancerous cells.
In addition to its possible role as a cancer fighter, green tea is thought to have the ability to lower levels of both total cholesterol and bad (LDL) cholesterol. In addition, green tea has shown promise in reducing high blood pressure, preventing and treating rheumatoid arthritis and boosting the immune system.
The secret to the health effects of green tea are thought to lie in its high concentration of polyphenols. The most significant of these healthful compounds is thought to be epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG has long been regarded as a strong antioxidant, and it has been shown to help kill cancer cells without injuring the healthy tissues of the body. EGCG is also thought to play a role in stopping the growth of cancer cells.
Green tea is also thought to be important to heart health, perhaps due to the ability of EGCG to lower cholesterol in the blood and reduce the formation of blood clots. That is why scientists are continuing to study green tea in relation to the so-called French paradox. Scientists and others have long been amazed by the fact that the French, who eat diets high in fat and other unhealthy elements, suffer from much lower levels of heart disease than Americans.
The answer to the French paradox may lie in the healthy benefits of red wine consumption, particularly in a compound known as resveratrol, which is thought to help reduce the effects of a fatty diet. The main ingredient in green tea is thought to be twice as powerful as a heart protector than the compounds found in red wine.
Green tea is also thought to have special benefits for those with high levels of triglycerides in the bloods. These harmful blood lipids are known to play a significant role in the development of heart disease, and there is considerable evidence that green tea can lower the levels of triglycerides in the blood.
It is thought that the mix of compounds found in green tea are able to inhibit the formation of pancreatic lipase, which as an enzyme secreted by the pancreas. This in turn has a strong effect on the rate
at which these fats are broken down into triglycerides. Since the rise in triglycerides in the blood that often follows a meal is a risk factor in coronary artery disease, it is thought that following a fatty meal with one or two cups of green tea may have a protective effect on the heart and cardiovascular system.
Another important heart healthy benefit of green tea lies in its ability to prevent the formation of blood clots. The catechins in green tea help to thin the blood, thus helping to prevent blood clots from forming. In particular, green tea is thought to prevent inflammatory compounds found in fatty foods from forming.
While green tea is important in preventing heart disease, it may be even more important for those who have suffered a heart attack or who have heart disease to consume green tea. There is a great deal of research that has suggested that green tea may be able to help prevent further heart and cardiovascular damage in those who have suffered a previous heart attack. In addition, regular consumption of green tea has been shown to speed recovery following a heart attack or stroke.
The healthy compounds in green tea have been shown to minimize the death of heart cells following a heart attack or stroke, and the ECGC contained in green tea also appears to increase the recovery of those heart cells which have already been damaged, thus allowing the heart tissues to recover in a more timely manner and reducing possible damage to other organs.
The damage minimizing effects of green tea are not limited to the heart, however. The compounds contained in green tea have also been shown to be very protective of brain cells. It is thought that the brain cell protective functions of green tea work in much the same way as their heart protective functions, and this suggests that green tea consumption may be able to help mitigate the damage which occurs following a stroke.
Green tea consumption has also been shown to have a strong impact on blood pressure, and the compounds in green tea have been shown to both help prevent high blood pressure and to lower high blood pressure in those who already suffer from it.
Green tea may even be able to prevent many forms of cancer, and these possible anticancer benefits are the subject of much ongoing research into the benefits of green tea. It is thought that the catechins contained in green tea, are able to interfere with the growth factors associated with cancer. These catechins appear to produce this effect by effectively shutting down the relay stations used by cancer to grow. These relay stations, known to science as tyrosine kinase receptors, are essential for a number of processes which turn normal cells into cancer cells, and it is thought that green tea may be able to prevent the development and growth of cancer by interfering with the growth factors cancer relies upon.
The anticancer benefits of green tea have continued to be documented in many studies, and the ability of green tea to prevent cancer has been continually documented. The evidence for the anticancer benefits of green tea has become so overwhelming that there are plans for developing the compounds found in green tea into cancer preventing and cancer fighting drugs.
Among the many cancers the compounds in green tea are thought to fight are such major cancers as prostate cancer, bladder cancer, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, childhood brain tumors, colon cancer, and lung cancer,
In addition it is thought that green tea may have the ability to improve the effectiveness of drugs used to treat cancer while lessening many of their unpleasant side effects. In particular, one of the active compounds in green tea, the amino acid known as theanine, has been shown to reduce the side effects of many chemotherapeutic agents while helping to increase their effectiveness.
Green tea is also being studied for its ability to improve the insulin sensitivity of type 2 diabetics. Many population studies have suggested that the compounds found in green tea may be able to prevent type-2 diabetes as well, in addition to improving the glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity of those who have already developed type-2 diabetes.
In addition to these important benefits, green tea is being studied for its possible ability to fight the osteoporosis that all too often afflicts the elderly. Green tea is known to promote healthy bones and teeth by helping to protect the osteoblasts, which are responsible for building bones from the destructive effects of free radicals.
The compounds in green tea are also thought to play a protective role in the liver. Protecting the liver is essential to good health, since all impurities and pollutants taken into the body are filtered through the liver. It is thought that the antioxidants found in green tea are able to minimize the liver damage done by free radicals, and this may account for much of its protective benefits.
And of course dieters have long known about the fat loss benefits of green tea. Green tea is thought to have a simulative effect on the metabolism, and every dieter knows that a faster metabolism means a greater number of calories burned. In addition, the compounds found in green tea are thought to increase the effectiveness of exercise, helping people burn more calories with the same amount of exertion.
Green tea is thought to have a particularly profound effect on what is known as visceral fat. This special type of fat accumulates within the tissues that line the abdominal cavity and surround the intestines and internal organs. Visceral fat is thought to be more dangerous than fat deposits on the thighs and hips, so reducing this type of fat is generally acknowledged to have the most important health benefits.
Another important benefit of green tea for dieters is the fact that it is thought to increase exercise endurance. Many people who drink green tea on a regular basis report being able to exercise longer without becoming tired, and many athletes swear by the effects of green tea on endurance.
It is thought that the catechins contained in green tea are able to stimulate the usage of fatty acids by the cells of the muscles and the liver. This ability of muscle cells to burn more fat means a reduction of the speed at which glycogen is used up, and this translates to the ability to exercise for longer lengths of time. This same effect on the ability of muscle cells to burn fatty acids is thought to be responsible for the weight loss effects of green tea consumption.
Originally posted 2019-10-03 10:23:58.