Green Tea is arguably the healthiest drink on planet Earth.  Native to China and India, it has been consumed and hailed for its health benefits for centuries around the world, yet is only now gaining favor and popularity here in the United States.

This remarkable beverage, which may be consumed hot or cold, is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that have powerful and significant beneficial effects on the human body.  Some of these benefits include improved brain function, enhanced fat loss, a lower risk of cancer, and many other amazing benefits.

The following 10 health benefits of Green Tea have been confirmed in human research studies, of which the references are listed below.

1. Green Tea contains powerful antioxidants

Green tea is loaded with polyphenols like flavonoids and catechins, which function as powerful antioxidants.  These substances can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage.

One of the more powerful compounds in green tea is the antioxidant Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), which has been studied to treat various diseases and may be one of the main reasons green tea has such powerful medicinal properties.  Green tea also has small amounts of minerals that are important for health.

2. Green Tea can improve brain function

Green tea does more than just keep you awake, it can also make you smarter.  The key active ingredient is caffeine, and while it doesn’t contain as much as coffee, it still has enough to produce a response without making you feel jittery.

Green Tea also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which is able to cross the blood-brain barrier.  L-theanine increases the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, which has anti-anxiety effects.  Studies have shown that the combination of caffeine and L-theanine can have synergistic effects, and is particularly potent at improving brain function.

3. Green Tea increases fat burn and exercise endurance

Green Tea has been shown to increase fat burning and boost the metabolic rate, in human controlled trials.  In one study in 10 healthy men, green tea increased energy expenditure by 4%.  Another study showed that fat oxidation was increased by 17%, indicating that green tea may selectively increase the burning of fat.

In two separate review studies, caffeine has been shown to increase physical performance by 11-12%, on average.

4. Green Tea may lower your risk of various cancers

Cancer is caused by uncontrolled growth of cells.  It is one of the world’s leading causes of death.  It is well known that oxidative damage contributes to the development of cancer and that antioxidants can have a protective effect.

Green tea is an excellent source of powerful antioxidants, reducing the incidence of cancer in breast, esophageal, lung, stomach and prostate cancers.

5. Green Tea may reduce risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Not only can green tea improve brain function in the short term, it may also protect your brain in old age.  Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in humans and a leading cause of dementia.  Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease and involves the death of dopamine producing neurons in the brain.

Multiple studies show that the catechin compounds in green tea can have various protective effects on neurons in test tubes and animal models, potentally lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

6. Green Tea improves dental health and risks of infections

Some studies show that they can kill bacteria and inhibit viruses like the influenza virus, potentially lowering your risk of infections.  Streptococcus mutans is the primary harmful bacteria in the mouth. It causes plaque formation and is a leading contributor to cavities and tooth decay.

Studies show that the catechins in green tea can inhibit the growth of streptococcus mutans. Green tea consumption is associated with improved dental health and a lower risk of caries.

7. Green Tea may lower your risk of Type II diabetes

Type II diabetes is a disease that has reached epidemic proportions in the past few decades and now afflicts about 300 million people worldwide.  This disease involves having elevated blood sugar levels in the context of insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin.  Studies show that green tea can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.

One study in Japanese individuals found that those who drank the most green tea had a 42% lower risk of developing type II diabetes.  According to a review of 7 studies with a total of 286,701 individuals, green tea drinkers had an 18% lower risk of becoming diabetic.

8. Green Tea may reduce risk of cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, are the biggest causes of death in the world.  Studies show that green tea can improve some of the main risk factors for these diseases.

Green tea also dramatically increases the antioxidant capability of the blood, which protects the LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation, which is one part of the pathway towards heart disease.  Given the beneficial effects on risk factors, it is not surprising to see that green tea drinkers have up to a 31% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

9. Green Tea can help you lose weight

Given that green tea can boost the metabolic rate in the short term, it makes sense that it could help you lose weight.  Several studies show that green tea leads to decreases in body fat, especially in the abdominal area.

One of these studies was a randomized controlled trial in 240 men and women that went on for 12 weeks. In this study, the green tea group had significant decreases in body fat percentage, body weight, waist circumference and abdominal fat.

10. Green Tea may help you live longer … like the Japanese

Naturally, we all have to die eventually.  However, given that green tea drinkers are at a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, it makes sense that it could help you live longer.

In a study of 40,530 Japanese adults, those who drank the most green tea (5 or more cups per day) were significantly less likely to die during an 11 year period:

  • Death of all causes: 23% lower in women, 12% lower in men
  • Death from heart disease: 31% lower in women, 22% lower in men
  • Death from stroke: 42% lower in women, 35% lower in men
  • Another study in 14,001 elderly Japanese individuals aged 65-84 years found that those who drank the most green tea were 76% less likely to die during the 6 year study period