Green Tea: Good or Bad?

by in Healthy Tips, September 7, 2010

green tea

There are countless questions dietitians are asked about green tea: Is it good for me? How much should I drink? Does it have caffeine? Will it help me lose weight? We’ve got the scoop on this popular beverage — here’s what you need to know.

About Green Tea
For centuries green tea has been used in various ways including as a stimulant, diuretic and to help improve heart health. Of the three tea varieties, green tea is the only one that doesn’t undergo fermentation upon harvesting (black and oolong do). The leaves are steamed or pan-fired in order to prevent the fermentation process. Some varieties of green tea include Gunpowder, Hyson, Sencha, Dragon Well and Matcha.

Nutrition Info
Green tea contains the highest amounts of polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that have been shown to help fight disease. If you find that is has a bitter flavor, that’s from the catechins which are a specific type of polyphenols specifically found in green tea. Adding lemon to your tea can help cut the bitterness.

The main vitamins and minerals you can find in green tea include vitamin C, energy-boosting B-vitamins, vitamin E and fluoride (for strong teeth and bones).

What Studies Show
Numerous studies have been published indicating that green tea may play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease. One such study was published in 2006 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that folks who drank green tea over a period of 11 years had a lower chance of getting a stroke. Scientific studies have also shown that green tea may help with cancer of the lungs, breast, prostate, stomach, colon and skin. The tea has also been found to help improve cognitive function among older adults.

Weight Loss
Green tea contains compounds known as alkaloids (like caffeine) which provide a stimulant effect and do help speed up metabolism. But don’t go downing packages of green tea just yet — it only increases it a small amount.  Several studies have linked green tea and green tea supplements (in the form of pills and extracts) to weight loss of about 1 to 5 pounds (depending on the study and the form of green tea that was taken).

Besides not being regulated by the FDA, many of the green tea supplements promising weight loss have a laundry list of active ingredients that may interact with medications and other herbal supplements. This is especially true if you have a heart condition — caffeine (and other stimulants) and a bad heart just don’t mix. Green tea and green tea supplements (i.e. pills, extracts) have also been shown to interact with medications prescribed for kidney disease and psychological disorders. It’s important to always consult a physician before drinking green tea regularly or taking green tea supplements.

Bottom Line:
Studies have shown beneficial effects of green tea and can be part of a healthy diet. The healthiest option is drinking a cup (or two) of green tea a day. Stay away from the supplements and weight loss gimmicks – they can be dangerous and they’ll leave your wallet thinner than they’ll make you.

TELL US: Do you drink green tea?

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

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Comments (47)

  1. Barb says:

    I drink my green tea uced. I make uo a gallin that is half green and half black. Bigelows even has a green Constant Comment that tastes very similar to the black.

    • Lynn says:

      What a great idea! I really enjoy my black tea in the morning and afternoon, but I would like the health benefit of green tea. I'll start mixing mine, too!!

  2. Carrie says:

    I drink green tea every Sunday morning. It does a great job of eliminating all the toxins from the weekend.

  3. nicole says:

    I drink green tea everyday. I love it. I also drink yerba mate as it has more beneficial properties than green tea

  4. nancy says:

    Been drinking organic dancing leaves loose green tea – 2 cups a day for the past eight years. I am addicted. I do have to add raw honey. 54 and no health problems. In good shape. Maybe its the green tea!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. carol says:

    I drink green tea everyday, I like the taste, I use the de-caf type. Green tea doesn't seem to leave that bitter taste I was getting from drinking coffee. I usually have some hot tea in the morning and a bottle of cold tea in the afternoon.

  6. Dave says:

    I drink the diet Lipton Citrus Geen Tea. According to a study at Michigan University you get about the same amount of antioxidants as most people get from a home brewed cup of green tea because of the amount of time that it is actually brewed (the longer the better). I'm still alive so it must be working :-)

  7. Anne says:

    I drank green tea for years and loved it! I recently quit in an effort to see if the green tea was what was staining my teeth. Apparently, yes, sad to say. Now I'm only allowing myself hot lemon-water. But, oh how I miss my green tea!

    • Joy says:

      Sip your tea through a straw and your teeth will not darken from tea (or coffee). Then, if you think of it, rinse your mouth with clear water after you finish your tea.

    • Nina says:

      Drink it through a straw and continue to enjoy your green tea!

    • Moe says:

      Drink the tea through a straw and it won't stain your teeth

    • Allyson says:

      My dentist suggested that I switch to green tea from decaf regualr tea, because of the staining. After 6 months, there was a remarkable change. I hardly had any staiing at all!

    • J. Johnston says:

      Many years ago my dentist said that tea and coffee were staining my teeth. He told me to just add a little milk and that would either solve or much improve the problem

    • Sid says:

      Do you drink coffee or smoke?? Might be the problem, coffee is really bad. Use whiting toothpste, good luck!!

    • Faith says:

      Stain on your teeth will not do any harm to the enamel…it can be removed by brushing with baking soda on a wet toothbrush…on the other hand lemon juice can break down your enamel especially at the gumlines…better to have stained teeth than decayed enamel.

  8. Jim says:

    Up until a few weeks ago, we had two flavors of green tea in the cupboard-Honey Ginseng and Ginger Peach. They were such great flavors, that I went over the edge and bought a dozen different flavors from the Republic of Tea. My new favorites are Double Dark Chocolate Mate' and Blackberry Sage in the caffeine varieties. In the caffeine free, I like "The Year of the Tiger", a chocolate orange rooibos tea(whatever that is). No, I don't work for The Republic of Tea, but they have very good customer service. They need it with all the choices they have.

  9. B.A.D. says:

    I like to drink green tea. I try to drink it in mornings. My aunt drinks it everyday. I heard it is good for your body.

  10. Virginia says:

    Try Jasmine Green Tea by Teas' Tea. You can find it @ Target or Whole Foods. It's Calarie free tastes great cold or hot.

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