What are the antioxidant effects of green tea?
Green tea has been widely accepted as being a great source of antioxidants. The active components in green tea are powerful antioxidants called polphenols (catechins).
Green tea contains one particularly potent catechin known as epigallocatechin (EGCG). EGCG is said to contain 25-100 times more antioxidants than Vitamins C and E. Green tea catechins make up 30% of the dry weight of green tea leaves.
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are substances which protect cell tissues from the damaging effects of oxygen. Antioxidants play an important role in preventing cellular damage from free radicals. Antioxidants donate an electron to the free radical and convert it to a normal molecule.
Common antioxidants are Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta-carotene, selenium, lutien and lycopene. As mentioned above green tea contains the potent antioxidant EGCG, which is said to contain 25-100 times more antioxidants than Vitamins C and E.
What are free radicals?
Free radicals are reactive substances that contain oxygen and are formed when molecules split to make unpaired electrons. These single, unpaired electrons then try to pair up by stealing an electron from the nearest stable cell. Thus this can create a chain reaction, and antioxidants are thought to stop the free radicals before they can cause damage to other healthy cells. Free radicals are reactive and can damage cell DNA, or cell membranes. Free radicals can damage cells so they can’t function, or cause the cells to die.
Free radicals are produced in normal circumstances in the body, and if we are consume a diet rich in antioxidants, they neutralize the free radicals before they do any damage. Free radical damage can be accelerated with exposure to air pollution, tobacco smoke, UV light and chemical pollutants. More free radicals are produced as we age, which means a diet rich in antioxidants is very important.
A number of cancers are linked with free radical damage. Numerous scientific studies have suggested that the antioxidant effects of green tea have anti-cancer benefits for breast, stomach, colon, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, bladder, skin, leukemia and liver cancer. Aging is also a result of free radical damage.
How do the antioxidant effects of black tea compare to green tea?
All teas contain antioxidants, however green tea contains significantly more due to the different processing methods. In the processing of green tea, the leaves are steamed and not exposed to oxygen.
When black tea leaves are processed they are fermented and exposed to oxygen. This process means the leaves lose much of their goodness and makes green tea the most healthful of the two.
How to get the most antioxidants from green tea?
You will also reap more antioxidant health benefits, if you consume loose leaf green tea rather than green tea brewed from tea bags. This is because the tea put in tea bags, is made from the left-overs after loose leaf green tea has been packaged. This is known as ‘dust’ in the tea industry. Because the tea leaves have been broken into tiny pieces, most of the healthful benefits are lost.
When you brew green tea with loose leaf tea, you can see the leaves unfurl in front of you. After you brew the leaves for just a couple of minutes, you will see the rich color, and appreciate the aroma of green tea, that you will only experience from loose leaf green tea.