Green tea and green tea Extract are among the most widely consumed health supplements out there. Green tea is made from the camellia sinensis plant, where the leaves are dried and either steeped in hot water to drink as tea or processed to be sold as a supplement.
The most important parts of green tea are the leaves, leaf bud, and stem. The tea is not fermented and instead produced by steaming the leaves at high temperatures. This is done to maintain its most important health-boosting compounds.
These compounds are called catechins and polyphenols, which are water-soluble and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
In general green tea seems to be benefiting almost every organ system in the body, as it is good for the heart, brain, blood vessels, while also having anti-carcinogenic and anti-diabetic properties.
When drinking or supplementing green tea, keep in mind that it also contains 2% to 4% caffeine, which can be a pro or a con depending on whether you are looking for a boost in alertness and brain function or prefer to relax and cool down.
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What do green tea supplements do?
Green tea’s most important health effects are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
It can help your body manage minor inflammation, which generally puts you at a lower risk of developing many diseases. Of course, the best way to reduce inflammation is through an overall healthy diet and plenty of exercise, but green tea can be a good addition.
In regards to antioxidant effects, green tea can bind reactive chemicals in your body called “free-radicals“, which react with your cells and can cause DNA damage.
What you have to keep in mind, though is that many of the positive effects associated with green tea are based on results from in vitro studies. These studies were done on microorganisms, outside their normal biological context, which means that the results don’t always apply to more complex organisms like humans.
In humans, it seems that not 100% of the catechins get to the cell to exert positive effects. This means the bioavailability of green tea might be fairly low and very little of it might be actually absorbed. Some research suggests that consuming fish oil along with green tea increases bioavailability, which you might want to consider as a combination.
How should you take green tea?
How much green tea you should consume depends on the strength and purity of your product. If you buy a high quality, high strength extract, a good daily dose is 250 – 500 mg. This will provide you with most of the powerful health-promoting effects of green tea.
Side effects from green tea extract are rare and mild as long as you stick to the recommended dosage. If you are not used to the caffeine and start with a fairly high dose you might get headaches, dizziness, nausea.