11 Health Benefits of Green Tea You Haven’t Heard Before

This miracle beverage is effective at fighting everything from cancer to acne. So pour a cup, and let the benefits begin.

Help prevent multiple cancers

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The study of green tea and cancer prevention is still in early stages, but the results are promising. Researchers suspect that polyphenols in green tea help kill cancer cells and stop their progression, an important role to prevent various cancers.

• In a study of 472 women with breast cancer, those who drank the most green tea experienced the least spread of the disease. Researchers also found that women in the early stages of breast cancer who drank at least five cups of green tea every day during their diagnoses were less likely to have the disease recur after the completed treatment. • In looking at more than 35,000 women in the Iowa Women's Health study, those who drank two or more cups of tea a day were almost 30 percent less likely to develop colon cancer than those who rarely drank tea. • One Chinese study found that men who drank more than three cups of tea a day reduced their risk of prostate cancer by 70 percent. In another study funded by the National Institute of Health, 79 men with prostate cancer were told to either drink 6 cups of green tea a day or 6 cups of water. After 3 to 8 weeks, the levels of prostate-specific antigen, a protein that may indicate cancer, were lower in the men who drank green tea than those who drank water. An indicator of inflammation, nuclear factor-kappaB, linked to cancer growth, was also lower in the men who drank the green tea. • In skin cancer studies, lab animals that were given green tea developed 1/10th as many tumors as animals that were given water. The EGCC in green tea inhibits the production of urokinase, an enzyme that cancer cells need in order to grow. It also seems to stimulate the process of programmed cell death, or apoptosis, in cancer cells.

Make your heart healthier

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Green tea contains significant amounts of flavonoids, antioxidants that protect against heart disease by slowing the breakdown of LDL cholesterol, preventing blood clots, and improving blood vessel function. Green tea is also associated with lower cholesterol and lower rates of artery blockages. People who drink a cup or two a day have a 46 percent lower risk of developing narrowed arteries. Upping that to three cups a day lowers the risk of having a heart attack by 43 percent and of dying from a heart attack by 70 percent. It can even help prevent a second heart attack. In a study of 1,900 patients recovering from heart attacks at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, the death rate among patients who drank at least two cups of tea a day was 44 percent lower than among non-tea drinkers.

Soothe arthritis

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To cut down on aches and pains, try to sip four cups of green tea a day. The tea contains quercetin, a chemical compound that acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. In a recent study conducted at Case Western Reserve University, researchers gave mice the equivalent of four cups of green tea a day, then gave them a substance that would normally produce rheumatoid arthritis. The tea-drinking mice were far less likely to develop arthritis than mice that drank water. According to the Iowa Women's Health Study, women who drank more than three cups of tea a day were 60 percent less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than non tea drinkers. Other research has found that tea’s polyphenols—antioxidant properties—are also anti-inflammatory and improve arthritis-related immune responses.

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Boost your brain

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Researchers from the Netherlands confirmed in a recent study that two green tea compounds, L-theanine and caffeine, can significantly boost levels of attention and alertness, building on what is already known about tea’s brain benefits. Green tea is less likely to make you jittery and anxious than other energy-boosting drinks, because it contains lower levels of caffeine than other teas or coffee. In another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers discovered that drinking just one cup of green tea a day made people age 55 and older 38 percent less likely to experience a decline in their mental abilities. Drinking a second cup daily made them 54 percent less likely to show mental declines.

Clear up acne

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A University of Miami study found that even a mild dose of green tea’s antimicrobial and antioxidant compounds erased almost two-thirds of pimples from people with mild to moderate acne when used twice daily for six weeks. To benefit, make a cup of green tea, let cool, and use as a face wash, or lay the tea bag directly on the skin to act as a compress for particularly bad pimples. For oily skin, mix peppermint tea with the green tea for an oil blasting wash; and to calm inflamed skin, add chamomile to green tea for a soothing acne home remedy.

Fight a UTI

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Drinking 2 to 3 cups of green tea daily can help clear up a urinary tract infection. The tea contains antioxidants that one study found can reduce bladder inflammation. Other studies have shown that green tea drinkers have a 40 percent lower incidence of UTIs than those who did not drink green tea.

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Relieve allergies

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Green tea is rich in flavonoids, plant chemicals that protect against inflammation. For struggles with allergies, try drinking a few cups of tea a day and see if the sinus inflammation goes down.

Reduce puffy eyes

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Some herbalists claim that tea bag compresses speed the healing of a black eye, but to calm puffy tissues, take two wet green tea bags, place them on tired or swollen eyes, and lie down for 15 to 20 minutes as the tea soothes and refreshes.

Reduce asthma symptoms

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The antioxidant quercetin, found in green tea, has been shown to inhibit the release of inflammatory substances from mast cells, which are involved in allergic responses. (This is how some asthma drugs work.) Try drinking two cups of green tea day to keep asthma symptoms at bay.

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Cut down on stress

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Green tea is lower in caffeine than most other teas, so you may be able to drink the five cups a day that lowered psychological stress in a large group of Japanese people in a recent study done at Sendai’s Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine. The researchers didn’t identify any particular component of green tea that might have been soothing, but animal studies suggest that one compound, EGCC, had both sedative and hypnotic effects that tamp down the body’s production of stress chemicals.

Provide off-the-charts levels of antioxidants

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Scientists at Tufts University compared the "ORAC" (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, a measurement of the total antioxidant power of foods and other chemical substances) of black and green tea and 22 fruits and vegetables, and found green tea brewed for five minutes outranked even so-called superfoods on the produce list. And EGCC, a catechin found in tea (and shows highest levels in green tea) has been shown to protect the DNA in cells from cancer-inducing changes. Antioxidants are essential for neutralizing and removing free radicals found in the bloodstream that can damage cells and cause disease. This antioxidant ability may be why green tea is believed to play a role in cancer prevention.

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