Tea Time: What Are The Benefits Of Green Tea?

By: Bulletproof Staff
August 10, 2015

Tea Time: What Are The Benefits Of Green Tea?

Not in the mood for a second Bulletproof Coffee today? Try out green tea.

Green tea is the first herbal tea ever brewed, dating back to as far as 2737 B.C., and its unique effects on the human body have kept it popular over the last 4700 years.

Interestingly, most common types of tea – green, black, yellow, and white – all come from the same plant: Camellia sinensis. The different end products depend on processing. Of all the varieties, green tea is one of the best for you.  It’s processed gently to minimize oxidation, so many of its most useful compounds stay intact.

Green tea is a well-known superfood, and it earns the title with ease. Read on to learn about the many benefits of green tea, as well as a couple important (but lesser known) downsides – and how you can hack them to make this drink do as much for you as possible.

Fight inflammation and protect your heart with polyphenols

Green tea is loaded with polyphenols, a class of potent antioxidant compounds. Studies suggest that green tea polyphenols may protect you from aging and inflammation associated with oxidative stress.[1] [2]. Specifically, green tea is a great source of catechins and flavonoids, the same polyphenols found in chocolate and coffee.[3] [4]

  •      The catechins in green tea may promote cardiovascular health by improving LDL cholesterol markers, according to an analysis of 14 randomized, controlled studies.[5] Decreasing oxidized LDL may improve heart health. Less oxidized LDL is also often a sign of decreased inflammation.

The study points out that green tea extracts worked as well as fresh green tea, so if you want the benefits but don’t like the drink, you can always take a supplement.

  •      Catechins also may counter high blood pressure.[6]

A last note about catechins: when they bind to calcium ions they become biologically inactive,[7] so if you live in an area with hard water, make your tea with water bottled in glass (not mineral water! Distilled is best) to get the greatest benefit from green tea’s catechins. Don’t add milk either; it’ll do the same thing.

Relaxing Benefits of Green Tea and Theanine

Another benefit of green tea is that it contains amino acids, the building blocks for proteins in your body. Theanine is the most abundant amino acid in green tea, making up 1-2% of the dry weight of the leaves [8]. It’s the compound responsible for green tea’s unique taste. These days, theanine is often used as a food additive to lend a little extra umami (savory) flavor to dishes, much like MSG does. The similarities between the two end there, because unlike MSG, theanine does all kinds of good for you.

  •      It promotes relaxation, especially in those who are anxious, by increasing alpha brain waves[8]. Alpha waves are electrical currents that run across the surface of your brain. They’re associated with a relaxed mental state. Alpha waves increase during meditation, quiet rest – and after you ingest theanine. One study found that 50 mg of theanine upped alpha wave production by ~20%.[8] You get about 8 mg of theanine from a cup of green tea. No word on whether a dose that low will help relieve anxiety, but considering green tea’s 4000-year-old reputation as a calming drink, it’s certainly possible.
  •      Theanine also may alleviate symptoms of PMS.
  •      A study of rats with hypertension showed that when theanine reaches the brain it actually acts a neurotransmitter, greatly reducing blood pressure.[9]

Green Tea to Burn Fat

Green tea may help you burn fat, too. An extract of green tea increased total energy expenditure by 4% in a 24-hour period, and it shifted the body toward burning fat instead of carbs.[10]

Another study gave overweight individuals either freshly brewed green tea, green tea extract, or water over the course of 8 weeks. Both green tea groups lost significantly more weight and showed a decreasing trend in LDL cholesterol.[11] The people drinking freshly brewed green tea lost about a pound more on average than did the ones taking green tea extract.

The Drawbacks to Green Tea – and How to Hack Them

There are a couple downsides to green tea.

  •      Depending on the quality and sourcing, some tea can contain mycotoxins. They’re not as common in tea as they are in coffee, but poorly grown or processed tea can have appreciable levels of ochratoxin A and aflatoxin.[12] Fortunately, this problem is more prevalent in black tea than it is in green tea, but green tea can still harbor mold, especially if it’s stored improperly.

Hack: Buy high-quality green tea. An analysis of several independent studies found that tea grown in Egypt had particularly high toxin levels, so consider avoiding Egyptian tea.

  •      Green tea may prevent folic acid absorption, especially in pregnant women.[13] [14] Folic acid/folate is important for fetal development, red blood cell production, and cardiovascular health. It may also be neuroprotective.

Hack: If you’re pregnant you may want to avoid green tea. For everyone else: up your folate intake if you drink green tea on a regular basis. Down a couple extra pastured egg yolks! They’re a great source of folate. For maximum absorption, don’t eat them within an hour of drinking green tea.

  •      Tea plants absorb a lot of fluoride from the soil, and green tea is moderately high in it. Green tea also contains oxalate, an antinutrient that prevents calcium absorption and can contribute to kidney stones.

Hack: Stick to two or three cups of tea a day to keep fluoride and oxalate low. Three cups a day or fewer should be fine for most people, but excessive tea consumption can cause problems.[15]

Overall, green tea is totally Bulletproof. In fact, tea blended with yak butter was what inspired me to create Bulletproof Coffee, and if you aren’t a coffee fan, Bulletproof tea is a great alternative. Try blending freshly brewed green tea with butter, Brain Octane, and a dash of cinnamon. It’s both tasty and great for you.

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