The Chinese herbal green tea has captured much of the headlines for itself by offering several health benefits. Green tea is a light, bitter tasting tea that needs no milk or cream to prepare and is ideally consumed without sugar, though sugars of some form may be preferred in attempt to mask its bitterness. Green tea has grabbed the attention of medical practitioners, nutritionists, and researchers and the health advantages it can provide has created a significant market for the product. In fact, a huge variety of flavors like basil, mint, cinnamon, etc. are also available in the loose leaf bag form. Additionally, green tea tablets/supplements are also made available.
How does green tea help in weight loss?
- Caffeine: Though green tea contains only about a third of the caffeine present in a cup of coffee, caffeine is effective in helping to reduce weight by suppressing the appetite and thus the caloric intake.
- Catechins: Catechins are polyphenols present in green tea that are the most important factor in promoting weight loss. These have high antioxidant properties that encourage the breakdown of fat cells and thus weight loss. Epigalocatechin-3-gallate is another catechin form in green tea that is found to modulate the process of the breakdown of fat (lipolysis) in the adipose tissue as per a study conducted by Lee and co-authors in the year 2009.
- Abdominal fat: Wang and co-research companions have also projected through their study conducted in 2009 that the consumption of extra high catechin containing green tea twice a day can helps improve body composition and reduces fat around the abdominal region among individuals who are moderately overweight.
- Cholesterol suppression: Catechins also inhibit the absorption of cholesterol by the intestinal walls, and thus the cholesterol levels in the blood are reduced. Green tea is effective, especially in regulating triglyceride and LDL levels in the blood stream.
- Appetite: Green tea’s Catechins bind to the leptin hormone and inhibit its function. Leptin is a hormone produced by the fat cells of the adipose tissue that increase the feeling of hunger, and in turn the caloric intake throughout the day.
- Reducing hunger: Apart from binding to leptin, green tea is able to reduce blood lipid parameters and lessen the circulating sugar in the blood by enhancing the uptake of glucose by the body tissues. This prevents the body cells from starving for energy and further reduces the feeling of hunger. A study by Al-Sowyan in 2009 revealed that dietary modification and the inclusion of green tea helps in preventing obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and protects the liver from by scavenging free radicals.
- Easing digestion: Thiamine contained in green tea aids in easing digestion appreciably and this increases the metabolic rate, which in turn affects the rate at which calories are burned.
- Low caloric consumption: Consuming green tea is a far better option as compared to consuming another snack, a soda, or even a fruit juice, as it has no sugar or fat unless sugar or honey is added. Its high water content reduces cravings and enhances satiety.
Though green tea has a composition that may help favor weight loss, several studies have also presented that it does not play a very significant role in losing the kilos. As per Jurgans and co-authors’ research study on the effect of green tea on weight changes, it was concluded that though green tea is beneficial for weight loss, the impact is extremely small and not statistically significant. This study suggested that green tea has a negligible role in weight maintenance.
Several studies have focused on green tea and its benefit to lose weight and the debate continues regarding whether or not green tea is really as effective in shedding weight. However, in a world where obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome are on the rise and dietary and lifestyle patterns are rapidly changing in a way that promotes weight gain, the combined effort of diet and physical activity modifications, along with food like green tea that can help in small ways to reduce weight, may prove to be a good step to take each day.