One of the major health issues our society faces today is obesity. In fact, more than half of the American population is overweight or obese. But did you know that one of the most commonly recommended and used herbal supplements to help with weight loss is green tea.

Obesity is associated with several chronic health conditions such as heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, not to mention diabetes.

Many dietary supplements make use of herbs that have been proven to help with weight loss. One such herb is green tea.

For thousands of years, the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant have been valued by the Chinese as an herbal and medicinal drink. Green tea, according to legend, was believed to be first discovered by no less than an emperor. Chinese Emperor Shennong was reported to have been boiling water when the leaves of a nearby tree fell into his pot. The result was the first pot of green tea.

Like all three of the major Asian teas available, green tea comes from the plant called Camellia sinensis. However, green tea is said to have more potent herbal benefits compared to black tea or oolong tea. This is because the antioxidants naturally occurring in green tea leaves remain intact when it is processed as a tea. Unlike black tea, where the leaves are boiled, green tea leaves are steamed, preventing the full oxidation of the leaves and preserving the natural antioxidants in its original form.

Outside of weight loss, there are other health benefits associated with green tea. One of these benefits is preventing cancer. According to scientific studies, certain substances present in green tea are said to help in the destruction of cancer cells without harming any of the neighboring tissues. This substance is called epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG, an antioxidant.

Green tea’s EGCG is also helpful in increasing the 24-hour energy expenditure of the body. In a University of Geneva study, green tea was shown to increase the body’s natural energy expenditure by 4%.  People who took green tea in capsules were more likely to use more fat than those who took caffeine or placebo.

Furthermore, green tea is said to greatly help in lowering cholesterol levels in humans. In China, 240 people with high cholesterol levels were given one green tea capsule — equivalent to seven cups of green tea —  everyday for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, those who took green tea reduced their cholesterol levels by 16%, compared to those who took a placebo.

So, whether you’re looking for a way to lose weight or simply increase your good cholesterol, green tea is something you need to consider adding to your diet. Of course, please check with your doctor before adding any supplement (even tea!) to your routine.

Tom Casey
Amy Clark
Angelika Torres
Anthony Zolezzi
Chelsea Vurciaga
Dave Carter
Elizabeth Chatellier, MA, RDN
Linda Bonvie
Liz Latham
Sebrina Zerkus Smith
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