What kind of green tea is healthy?

All true tea plants (black, green, oolong) belong to the same species called Camellia sinensis. The quality of teas and their health benefits differ based on local growing conditions (altitude, climate, and soil) and the way the leaves are processed.

Green tea is the least processed and thus provides the most antioxidant polyphenols, including a catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is believed to be responsible for most of the health benefits linked to green tea. Hundreds of studies have evaluated the benefits of green tea for heart health, cancer prevention, bone health, diabetes, gum disease, brain health, weight loss, and much more.

Certain types of green tea contain higher levels of nutrients, and they are also much more expensive than regular green tea. For example, Matcha green tea is made from the finest, youngest leaves of the first harvesting days in Japan.

Most of the research on the health benefits of green tea is based on the amount of green tea typically consumed in Asian countries—about 3 cups per day.

In 2007 the USDA compared nearly 400 kinds for their flavonoid content, which is mainly responsible for green tea’s health benefits. They found that a cup of hot, regular (not decaffeinated or flavoured) green tea provided 127 milligrams of catechins, which is

  • 2 times more than a decaffeinated green tea.
  • 3 times more than a flavored green tea.
  • 10 times more than an instant or bottled green tea!

Allow the tea to steep for three to five minutes to extract its catechins, most notably epigallocatechin-3-gallate.

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Can green tea or soy reduce risk of breast cancer?

What about the estrogen in green tea and soy for increasing breast lumps?  My GP has told me not to drink green tea.

Green tea does not contain any estrogen. In fact, some research has suggested that it may actually help in estrogen metabolism and reduce reduce risk of  breast cancer.

Soy contains isoflavones which are known as phytoestrogens because they can bind to estrogen receptors and exert weak estrogenic effects. Soy foods have been shown in studies to offer many health benefits including providing protection against osteoporosis (increasing bone density), reducing risk of heart disease with beneficial effects on cholesterol, platelets and blood vessels, and relieving menopause symptoms.

According to most human research, eating whole soy foods does not increase risk of breast or endometrial cancer in postmenopausal women, and may even be protective.  There is also some evidence that soy may be beneficial for cyclic breast pain and improve fibrocystic breast conditions.

However, consuming purified soy products and supplements is a different matter. A study published in Carcinogenesis suggests that not only is the cancer-preventive ability of soy foods markedly reduced in highly purified soy products and supplements, but that such processed foods can stimulate the growth of pre-existing estrogen-dependent breast tumors.

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Green Tea and Liver Disorders

Is there not contraindication with Green Tea and liver disorders?

Green tea is generally regarded as safe, however green tea extracts (supplement forms) are not recommended for those with liver failure. There are several case reports in which use of a concentrated green tea extract was associated with liver inflammation.  In most cases, liver problems disappeared after the extract was discontinued. But, in two cases, permanent liver failure occurred. While it is not absolutely certain that the green tea extract caused the liver problems, nor how it might do so, these reports have raised concerns about use of green tea extracts, especially by those with liver disease.

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