Green tea health benefits are largely attributed to compounds in the tea called polyphenols, which are natural chemical agents with powerful antioxidant properties.
Research has shown the antioxidant effects of green tea polyphenols are linked to possible slowing or prevention of cancer, arthritis, heart disease, aging, and tooth decay.
Catechins, which are a subgroup of the polyphenol family, are found in tea and fall into these six categories: catechin, gallaogatechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate, and apigallocatechin gallate (also referred to as EGCG).
EGCG is the most powerful, most active, and most researched of all the green tea polyphenols.
Compared to other blends, green tea leaves have the highest percentage of polyphenol, making up 30% to 40% of the total composition of the leaf. This is quite a contrast to black teas that only contain 3% to 10% polyphenols.
The difference in the levels is attributed to differences in processing once the tea leaves and buds are harvested. Green teas are minimally oxidized, whereas black teas are fully oxidized. The slightly bitter taste of the green tea is in part caused by the naturally high polyphenol level.
Other ingredients present in green tea are alkaloids – caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline – that contribute to the beverage’s mild stimulating effect.
Fluoride, which also occurs naturally in green tea, has been known for decades to help prevent tooth decay. Yet, it has recently received attention in the media as a health risk when consumed in large doses. The consensus is that that the levels of fluoride are far too low in green tea to pose any serious health risk. Yet, it is always advisable to speak with your healthcare provider.
For centuries many people have been enjoying the soothing brew, whether they drink it strictly for health reasons or because they enjoy the tea's many unique tastes and aromas.
For more information on the advantage of drinking green tea on a regular basis, please see the articles listed below.