Green tea is full of powerful antioxidants. And, according to the latest science, if you drink enough of it, you can reduce your risk of cancer. But there are three problems with drinking green tea.
First, there is no way to know precisely how much green tea you have to drink to get the desired effects. For example, each cup of green tea contains different amounts of EGCG. (And as I explained last month, EGCG–or epigallocatechin gallate–is one of the important active ingredients in green tea.)
Manufacturing practices and products vary. And you may steep your tea longer than I do. So it’s a guessing game. And remember, when I report on green tea, I mean the real green tea infusion that you steep. You can’t know how much EGCG the sugary, bottled green teas you can buy at the convenience store contain. So don’t be fooled.
But there’s a second problem with green tea. And black teas as well. In fact, all regular teas contain high levels of oxalic acid. Which is why long-term green/black tea drinking is strongly associated with the development of kidney stones.
Third, regular teas contain three active, related biochemicals: caffeine, theophylline and theobromine. These potent, biologically active plant chemicals stimulate the central nervous system. They also make tea a powerful diuretic that causes the body to lose water. And this effect can lead to a higher concentration of constituents such as calcium, oxalate (already present from the tea), or other minerals and salts. This also contributes to the development of kidney stones.
Fortunately, there’s a way to get around all these problems.
Scientists now know accurately and precisely how much EGCG you need in order to get the health benefits associated with green tea. And it’s actually much easier to get this exact amount by taking a green tea extract supplement instead of drinking green tea. This lets you avoid the guessing games. In fact, most scientific studies on green tea today…and there have been plenty in recent years…use green tea extract supplements for this very reason.
With a supplement, you know exactly how much EGCG you get in each capsule. In addition, most experts believe that you avoid the kidney stone issue by taking green tea extract as a supplement. Of course, we don’t yet have real data on this effect. But green tea supplements do not contain oxalic acid, which comes from the leaves. Plus, the supplements don’t contain caffeine or theophylline. So there is no diuretic effect.
As you’ll recall, last month I told you about a great study on green tea extract. For that study, women took 400 mg of green tea extract with 45 percent EGCG twice a day for four months. (This gave women a daily dose of 360 mg of EGCG.)
After four months, the women in the green tea group shrunk their uterine tumors by 33 percent. On the other hand, the placebo group’s tumors grew by 22 percent. That’s an overall difference of 57 percent. Plus, the green tea group improved their menstrual bleeding and red blood cell counts. And their overall quality of life improved as well.
In another recent clinical trial, researchers recruited 56 obese men and women with hypertension. They randomly divided the participants into two groups. One group took a green tea extract daily for three months. The supplement contained 379 mg of green tea extract containing 208 mg of EGCG. And the other group took a placebo.
After three months, the men and women who took green tea supplements improved their risk for heart disease. They significantly lowered their diastolic and systolic blood pressure readings. They also lowered their total and LDL cholesterol as well as their glucose and insulin levels. Their biomarkers for inflammation improved as well. And they even improved their serum tumor necrosis factor α, which is a cancer risk factor.
Not bad for just three months on a single supplement!
These strong clinical findings confirm observations already made in lab models. In addition, they give us a clear guide when it comes to dosing. In my view, they also show that when it comes to green tea, your best option is to take an extract in supplement form.
However, if you enjoy drinking tea as I do, you don’t have to give it up entirely. You simply need to change your “colors.”
Red tea is the way to go. It comes from an entirely different species and family of plant. It’s naturally caffeine-free and contains no oxalic acid. And it’s lower in tannic acid compared to green/black teas. So you don’t have to worry about kidney stones.
Plus, red tea gives you optimal hydration on a cellular level. And it has many other health benefits. In fact, red tea has a similar profile of antioxidants as green tea. And research now shows that red tea is a tool for longevity and cancer and heart disease prevention, just like green tea.
Of course, red bush is my favorite kind of red tea. We now offer a brand of red bush called “Red Joe” directly here at my website. You simply add Red Joe water-soluble powder to plain tap water, bottled water, or other beverage, hot or cold. And you can enjoy it worry-free.
1. “Green tea extract reduces blood pressure, inflammatory biomarkers, and oxidative stress and improves parameters associated with insulin resistance in obese, hypertensive patients.” Nutrition Research 2012;32(6):421-7
2. “Treatment of symptomatic uterine fibroids with green tea extract: a pilot randomized controlled clinical study,” Int J Womens Health 2013; 5: 477–486