Green tea, one of the healthiest beverages we can drink, has been associated with about a 30 percent reduction in breast cancer risk, and may protect against gynecological malignancies, such as ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer, as well as lower our cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and body fat. It may also protect the brain from both cognitive decline and stroke. As well, tea consumption has been associated with decreased risk of diabetes, tooth loss, and up to half the risk of dying from pneumonia.
Caffeine found in coffee and tea may also help prevent and perhaps even help treat Parkinson’s, one of our most crippling neurodegenerative conditions. In a randomised controlled trial, giving Parkinson’s patients the caffeine equivalent of two cups of coffee a day (or approximately four cups of black tea or eight cups of green tea) significantly improved movement symptoms within three weeks.
Those who suffer from seasonal allergies may also benefit from drinking tea. Randomised trials have shown that drinking about three cups of Japanese Benifuuki green tea per day starting six to ten weeks before pollen season significantly reduces allergy symptoms.
Might green tea play a role in mood? The levels of an important class of neurotransmitters called monoamines, which includes serotonin and dopamine, are controlled by an enzyme called monoamine oxidase (known as MAO) that breaks down any excess monoamines. People who are depressed appear to have elevated levels of this enzyme in their brains. Thus, the theory goes, depression is caused by abnormally low levels of monoamine neurotransmitters due to elevated levels of the neurotransmitter-munching enzyme. It appears that many plant foods, including green tea, as well as apples, berries, grapes, and onions, contain phytonutrients that seem to naturally inhibit the MAO.