Tea is known to humans for more than 5000 years for its beneficial effects during health, disease and convalescence.
In India, Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine, described tea as a ‘rasaayana’, a tonic, which confers attainment of positive health, resistance to diseases and assured a span of full life of quality living. In China, green tea was used for its curative value for thousands of years. In Japan, it was introduced for its asoporific properties and medicinal values for Buddhist monks. To the Western world, tea became a beverage that relaxed the tired body and mind.
In the modern era, where life became stressed and indisposed, and hence diseased, the interest in the health benefits of green tea amongst consumers and scientists alike is again increasing. With increasing obesity due to indiscriminate consumption of junk food, this seems one of the natural and safer ways of diet supplement of weight loss and slimming. There are millions of key word searches every month on green tea and weight loss, in popular search engines. It is heartening to see that people are waking up to a green reality for problems arising from unnatural ways of living.
However, there will be overuse of green tea as a solution. It should never be taken as a panacea as some people are and will be projecting it . The obsession of the masses with green tea and its weight loss products, green tea extracts, green tea pills augurs an overuse of this otherwise beneficial natural boon to us. Every good thing has side effects after all!
Types of Tea:
The tea we use fall into three distinct categories, black, green and white tea. Black tea is the most commonly used tea in every household. The black tea, the green tea, and the white tea are all harvested from the same Camellia sinensis, the common tea plant, their process of harvesting only makes the difference.
This is a variety that is harvested from the mature leaves and is more oxidized than the oolong, green and white
varieties. It is generally stronger in flavor and contains more caffeine than the other three. The fermentation process used to make this converts epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg) into other compounds, so, it is assumed it has less health benefits than others. However, recent studies by researchers indicate that theaflavins and thearubigens, the compounds contained in it, do more than contribute to its flavor and color.
It is harvested from the tender green leaves of the tea plant and is dried or only partly fermented. As it is processed very less, this has far more antioxidants than black tea which is completely fermented. It has a very grassy taste, that is why many people abhor its flavor and prefer white tea. But, it is favored over white tea because of its ready availability. It contributes to reduced heart disease, bad cholesterol and increase in metabolic rate / fat oxidization, so
helps in weight loss. It also prevents death of brain cells (less chance of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases) and reduces chances of cancers.
These leaves are harvested from the tender buds at a younger age than green tea leaves, so, they retain the white color. It is also not fermented. Various studies also support the fact that it has a certain edge over green tea when it comes to conferring health benefits among its drinkers, though green tea doesn’t have any known side effect. It bestows far more health benefits in the same amount as that of green tea. According to several studies, White Tea has far more antioxidants than green tea. The high concentration of antioxidants is attributed to the fact that it is partially processed and not fermented at all.
Oolong means “black dragon” in Chinese, oolong tea is sometimes called “semi-fermented”. Green tea leaves are
withered and then put through a series of light rollings. Firing halts oxidation when it is about half complete. However, oolong tea undergoes some degree of oxidation or fermentation that consequently places it between the green and black tea.
Green tea in Weight Loss:
Obesity is a disease of excess body fat characterized by a body mass index of 30+. It is different than being simple over weight. Whether severe clinical obesity, like morbid or malignant obesity, it carries greater risks of morbidity and premature mortality than simple overweight. It is difficult to ascertain the root causes of the current obesity epidemic. However, genetic causes like a predisposition to obesity, environmental causes or over-consumption (eating Too Many High-Fat or Refined Sugary Foods) are considered to be the main factors.
Green tea has become the latest natural agent in the fight against obesity. When on a weight loss program, exercise alone is not sufficient. It is heartening that simple substitution of green tea in diet can produce remarkable results. The results of some new studies are promising, indicating that green tea can increase the rate of calorie burning and assist weight loss, arrests weight gain and even reverses established obesity.
The EGCG in green tea is believed to rev up the fat-burning effects in a weight loss program.