Green tea has been around in many Asian cultures for hundreds of years so by now we’ve certainly all heard that green tea is good for us. From the high antioxidants, to the vitamins and minerals and the all-natural relaxing compounds, green tea seems like a sure choice for any healthy diet. But it turns out green tea is still surprising scientists and we may not know just how good for us green tea really is! Even though green tea has been around for centuries it’s only been getting attention in the fitness and scientific community for a decade or so. New studies have suggested that green tea can be good for us in ways we never even imagined! Read on for five surprising benefits of green tea.
- Brain power
Studies have shown a link between antioxidants in green tea such as L-Theanine to be able to relax the brain and provide a sense of calm and heightened perception, but did you know that green tea can help your memory? A recent study from the University of Basel in Switzerland showed that green tea might help improve the brain’s ability to communicate between different sections of the brain thereby resulting in higher scores on short term memory exams! When study participants drank a green tea extract mixed into a protein shake they had better short term memory retention than those who did not have their super shake! Science still has a long way to go before we fully understand the human brain but these early results are very encouraging for future studies. I wish I drank more green tea when I was at university!
- Pump up your strongest muscle…the heart
A recent study from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland found that people who drank a cup of tea per day had about a 33% lowered risk of a “major heart disease event” during the study than those who didn’t. Even more surprisingly, these tea-a-holics showed less calcium buildup in their arteries than those who didn’t. Calcium buildup across the body is very problematic as we age, contributing to things such as arthritis to kidney stones, to more serious things such as heart complications. The effects seemed to be consistent among 1 to 3 cups daily but we don’t know if drinking more than that produces an even larger benefit and always remember, even good things should be taken in moderation!
- Beat inflammation and even…sunburns?
Green tea has long been thought to have anti-inflammatory properties and some recent studies have suggested that green tea can help reduce inflammation throughout the body. From soothing headaches to joint pain, natural anti-inflammatories are a great option for those of us who want to cut down on the aspirins, but can green tea even help take the sting out of sunburns? Sunscreen should always be your first choice but we get it, you’re in a rush, it’s a beautiful day and you really just want to be at the beach! So maybe you missed a spot (or two…or three) you can try soaking a cool compress in green tea and gently letting the compress sit on your sunburn. The anti-inflammatories in green tea may help you find some relief from minor sunburns. Of course for serious sunburns you can use the compress on your way to the doctor! Always seek professional medical attention for serious burns.
So tonight is the night that you finally promised yourself you’d go to bed on time and get a full 8 hours of sleep. Raise your hand if you binge watched Netflix until 2 am, then tossed and turned because you can’t believe you have nothing left to watch and ended up with a solid 4 or 5 hours of sleep. Anyone else…just me? Well if you’re dealing with puffy or dark circles under your eyes green tea might be able to help! Cosmetics companies have been experimenting with adding green tea extracts to face masks and eye creams with some very promising results but did you know you can skip the mask all together and directly apply a damp tea bag to the puffy spots? It’s thought that the green tea helps moisturize and heal the skin while those anti-inflammatories reduce puffiness and irritation!
- Amp up your workouts
Ok so now you’re thinking, wait how is this surprising? I know that green tea contains EGCGs that help burn fat; you said these would be surprising! Well while the fat burning effects of green tea are widely known, the surprise comes from new studies that also suggest green tea can actually aid in boosting physical performance during exercise! Naturally present caffeine along with the antioxidants in green tea seem to improve athletic performance by helping the body pull the energy out of stored fat and make it easier for the body to use thereby temporarily increasing energy and athletic performance. Two separate university studies showed an average increase of ~11% versus athletes who did not consume any caffeinated green tea.
There you have it, 5 not so obvious benefits of green tea. Green tea still requires more of these studies to fully understand all of its benefits. If history proves anything here it’s that green tea isn’t a fad, not a trend, not something that no one will have heard of in another ten years. I’m excited to see what we learn about green tea next but until then, I’ll keep enjoying my Sencha. Who knows, maybe I’ll even be able to remember where I keep leaving my wallet!