Green tea promotes mood, longevity and wellness from the inside out

Is Green Tea Good for You? 12 Science-Backed Benefits

Life can be stressful, with the demands of work, family and social obligations crowding your calendar. Need a pick-me-up? There's nothing like a warm cup of tea to perk up your afternoon or calm your mind after a long day.

While almost any type of tea can hit the spot when you're feeling a bit frayed around the edges, if you're looking for a tea that not only soothes but offers an impressively diverse array of health benefits, there's a strong case for going green. That's because whether brewed or taken as a supplement, green tea is well-known for its abilities to promote mood, longevity and wellness from the inside out. And if you have specific goals, like keeping your brain healthy as you age, or even weight loss, green tea is a great tool to keep in your arsenal (or, at least, your cupboard!).

Let's read the tea leaves on all the ways green tea may benefit your health!

What is green tea?

Green tea—like many black teas—is made from the dried leaves and leaf buds of a Camellia sinensis plant. The difference between black tea leaves and green tea leaves is how they are processed. Instead of being fermented, green tea leaves are steamed, pan-fired, and then dried. The process ensures they keep their light green color and taste profile and many of their health-promoting qualities. You can get Chinese green tea, matcha, Japanese green tea, tea with caffeine, tea without caffeine, and many other types to satisfy your preferences. You can also get the health benefits of green tea through green tea extract supplements if tea drinking isn't your daily habit.

Are green tea benefits scientifically validated?

Thanks to long-standing tea-drinking traditions, green tea has been extensively experienced and researched. This means there is a lot of scientific evidence for the benefits of green tea and its powerful anti-aging polyphenol compounds, which support cellular and cardiovascular health, brain function, and much more.

12 health benefits of green tea

Green tea supports stress relief, heart and brain health, and more

Thanks to the beneficial health qualities of the Camellia sinensis plant, green tea (in both beverage and supplement form) supports the following:

1. A calm mood

Green tea is rich in L-theanine, a naturally occurring amino acid that can cross the blood-brain barrier and promote relaxation and a healthy response to stress. Controlled trials back this up: they show supplementation with L-theanine may help relieve stress and promote healthy mood as compared with those taking placebo. So drinking green tea or taking an l-theanine supplement may help you find your calm and maintain steady, focused energy.

2. A youthful brain

Studies suggest that green tea can help keep older brains sharp and support youthful brain function. A clinical study of 1,305 men and women aged 60-85 found that those who consumed more green tea were less likely to experience age-related cognitive decline. A review of 21 clinical trials also found support for the beneficial effect of green tea on memory and attention.

3. Antioxidant activity—so you can better fight oxidative stress

Green tea contains a variety of powerful antioxidant compounds called polyphenols, and these antioxidants are perhaps green tea's greatest claim to health fame. Green tea's most potent antioxidant is epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, an anti-aging powerhouse. Antioxidants provide whole-body health support, combating the oxidative stress that affects us daily. Controlled trials have found that green tea supplementation for more than one week supports a person's total antioxidant status and helps protect cells against oxidative stress.

4. Promotes a healthy inflammatory response

Along with antioxidant properties, evidence suggests that drinking green tea (or taking a supplement) helps support a healthy inflammatory response. This in turn, supports many aspects of wellness, including heart and whole-body health.

5. Immune system health

Green tea can be comforting, especially when you aren't feeling your best. Even better, the polyphenols in green tea may help support immune health. Preclinical studies have found that green tea polyphenols can modulate expression of immune-related genes to support a healthy immune system response.

6. Heart health

Another reason to love green tea? This tea, particularly the major polyphenolic compound EGCG, been found to support heart health. Various studies have associated an increased consumption of green tea with a healthy heart. Additionally, drinking green tea can help support already-healthy cholesterol levels.

7. Already-healthy blood pressure & blood flow

In the same vein (deliberate pun!) of these heart health benefits, EGCG has also been shown to support vascular health. Numerous controlled trials have found that green tea consumption helps support vascular function and healthy blood pressure already within the normal range.

8. Liver health

Drinking green tea or taking a green tea supplement may help support liver health. A meta-analysis of 15 studies showed green tea supports liver function in tea drinkers. And a clinical study found that 700 ml per day of green tea with high-density catechins helped support liver health and reduce oxidative stress in participants when compared with placebo.

9. Managing your weight—maybe even weight loss!

Want to manage your weight better? Raise your teacup! A meta-analysis shows green tea polyphenols help contribute to a healthy weight and weight management. In placebo-controlled clinical trials, consumption of green tea over 12 weeks led to weight loss and reductions in BMI and waist circumference when combined with a healthy diet and exercise.

10. Already-healthy blood sugar

Want more sweet news? Green tea has been found to support blood sugar already within a healthy range. In a clinical study, taking a green tea extract helped study participants maintain already-healthy blood sugar after drinking a sweet drink. A meta-analysis of 17 clinical trials also found that green tea consumption supports already-healthy blood sugar.

11. Beautiful skin

Those polyphenols and catechins in green tea are good for you inside and out. Evidence shows consuming green tea can help support healthy skin, helping to keep skin smooth and even.

12. Cellular health

Green tea's EGCG is more than an antioxidant. Studies suggest that this polyphenol superstar can help support healthy cell division (the process by which cells grow and divide) by interacting with compounds in cell membranes. And even though we can't see our cells, they sure play a key role in keeping us healthy!

Does green tea have to be hot to get the most benefits?

Drink green tea hot or iced

The temperature of green tea doesn't affect its health benefits, which is welcome news for those who prefer iced tea over hot tea, and even better news for those who love green tea ice cream! Green tea can be enjoyed in beverage form, in dessert form, or in supplement form—all can be beneficial. Supplements have the added benefit of being standardized, so you can be sure of the amount of polyphenols and catechins you are getting in each dose of green tea extract.

What is the healthiest green tea?

Matcha, which is a finely ground powder of shade-grown and specially processed leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant (where all green tea and black tea comes from), is generally considered the "healthiest" green tea because it has a higher antioxidant level than traditional green tea. Matcha also has higher amounts of caffeine and L-theanine, as well as vitamin A.

Because of its powder form, matcha is easy to add to smoothies, ice cream and shakes. Matcha is also commonly used in baked goods such as cupcakes. Just want something to drink? Matcha makes a delicious tea.

Are green tea supplements safe?

Green tea has a strong traditional history of safety and benefit to your health, and this track record applies to supplements of green tea extract. Talk to your doctor before making any changes to your diet, which includes dietary supplements, and be sure to take supplements as directed to reap the optimum health benefits.

Who should not drink green tea? Medical considerations

As we've noted, green tea has a long history of safe use. That said, as with any nutrient, too much of a good thing can be… not so good. Green tea contains caffeine, which may be a concern. Also, extremely high dosages of EGCG (more than 800 mg daily) may be detrimental. Consult your doctor before taking any supplement or changing your diet.

Why take green tea extract instead of drinking a cup of tea?

A cup of green tea is a great way to relax into the moment. But some dietary supplements give you the benefits of green tea without having to drink tea, for those who do not like the taste. Supplements also deliver clinically studied amounts of nutrients, which are sometimes equal to 3 or more cups of tea. That's a lot of brewing! Supplements are standardized, so you can enjoy the health benefits of green tea extract day after day in an easy-to-take form.

Do green tea supplements work?

Thanks to extensive research, there is ample evidence of the health benefits of green tea supplements and green tea consumption.

What to look for in green tea supplements

As with any supplement, look for high-quality formulas from reputable companies. Green tea supplements are available that contain and do not contain caffeine, to match your preference. Your green tea extract formula should contain EGCG, which is one of the principal polyphenols that contributes to green tea's health benefits.

When is the best time to take green tea supplements?

Some green tea supplements may contain caffeine, so you may want to take them earlier in the day to set yourself up for restful, quality sleep at night. If caffeine is an issue, look for a decaffeinated green tea extract.

Also, for many, it is easier to take supplements at the same time every day for consistency.

How to take green tea supplements

When supplementing, it is recommended that you use green tea powder, green tea beverages, and green tea extracts that are standardized to polyphenol or total catechin content.

The dosage of Life Extension's green tea extracts is 725 mg a day, providing 45% EGCG (326.25 mg)—equal to about 3 cups of tea. Similar amounts have shown health benefits in placebo-controlled clinical studies.

References

By: Jennifer Jhon, Health & Wellness Writer

Jennifer Jhon graduated from Auburn University with a degree in journalism and communications. She established her career as an editor, designer and writer at several newspapers and magazines. She has been writing about wellness, health and nutrition for 10 years.

Scientifically Reviewed By: Michael A. Smith, MD