Green tea is and has been an incredibly popular drink for thousands of years. The beverage is particularly hip right now, with chefs and bakers around the world incorporating green tea powders, infusions, and extracts into ordinary foods. Ice-cream sandwiches, cupcakes, noodles, chocolates, cakes, lattes, and cookies are just a few of the many food products available to you that have that smooth, refreshing green tea flavor.
Green tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, and its potency and flavor are determined by how it is harvested, processed, and brewed. When brewed correctly, green tea has a slightly sweet, nutty, buttery taste that is pleasant and refreshing. Brewed under the wrong conditions, however, it can turn bitter and harsh.
Green tea was first mentioned by Chinese writer Lu Yu in his book “The Classic of Tea” written around 760 B.C., though green tea is significant throughout Chinese mythology.
One of the things that makes green tea so popular is the fact that it can benefit your health in many ways.
Green tea has been associated with:
- Reducing inflammation
- Guarding against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
- Improving concentration
- Lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease
- Reducing anxiety
Green tea, like dark chocolate, Goji berries, blueberries, kale, beets, and spinach, is also high in antioxidants, which are exceptionally good for your body. Some foods come packed with antioxidants already, but your body also naturally produces antioxidants. They are the little compounds that protect your body from stress that can lead to health problems. By consuming appropriate amounts of antioxidant-rich foods, you are helping your body fight off future inflammation and infections.
Before you dive into a box of green tea ice-cream sandwiches – you know, for the benefit of your health – remember that these foods may be made with green tea extract or flavoring, and if so, they’re missing a lot of the health benefits that accompany green tea in its brewed or powdered form. Not to mention that the massive amounts of sugar in those products may wreak havoc on your teeth!
Impact on Oral Health
Recent studies have shown that green tea can have a pretty positive impact on your oral health as well as the rest of your body. One such study showed that tea drinkers lost fewer teeth than coffee drinkers, and it’s important to note that both groups went without sweeteners.
But why would that be?
It turns out that green tea has tiny microbe and bacteria-busting molecules called catechins. These catechins improve the drinker’s oral health by killing bacteria that can lead to the development of gum disease. Further studies measured three areas that contribute to gum and tooth disease.
- Pocket depth around the tooth
- Loss of gum tissue
- Bleeding upon probing the tissue
In all three areas of the study, they found that people who drank at least one cup of unsweetened green tea each day were significantly better off than those who didn’t.
Incorporating Green Tea into Your Diet
If you aren’t a big tea drinker but would like the benefits that green tea brings to the table, there are some other green tea-containing foods that you can prepare that aren’t high in sugar or fat.
- Marinate Away: Mix a little bit of salt, pepper, and honey into a few cups of brewed green tea, and marinate your favorite meat, tofu, or vegetables before cooking.
- Green Yogurt: It sounds a little bit like a Dr. Seuss book, but mixing a dash of green tea powder into your morning yogurt is a great way to start your day. Top it off with pecans and berries, and you have a tasty breakfast high in antioxidants.
- Soaked Rice: Consider using green tea instead of water when you’re making rice. The rice will absorb the tea’s benefits, and you can combine your green rice with other savory Asian flavors via stir-fry, soups, and smoked fish.
- Oatmeal surprise: This is another great way to add green tea to your morning routine. Instead of using water or milk in your oatmeal, use green tea. This will heighten the oatmeal’s nutty flavor while giving you a boost in antioxidants.
There isn’t a right or wrong way to enjoy the advantages of green tea (unless, of course, you’re drowning it in sugar or honey). So go ahead and work it into your diet today, and let your body absorb its many benefits.
Are you not a tea drinker but want to include it in your diet? If you do, try out some creative ways to include it in your meal plans. Choosing tea over coffee has been proven to be healthier because it lowers the risk for type 2 diabetes, improve your concentration and reduce inflammation. Follow any of these tips and you will enjoy the tea unknowingly.