Care of Amy Symington
To the Chinese, the health benefits of green tea is ancient history, quite literally. Only in the recent past has Western culture jumped on the green tea bandwagon and for more than legit reasons.
Green tea contains a type of anti-oxidant rich polyphenol called catechin that has been shown to have various health benefits relating to disease prevention. We are talking the big bad diseases here too; namely type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and some cancers. There is consistent epidemiological data that suggests green tea helps to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure, fasting total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (or “bad” cholesterol), and inhibits cancer cell growth as well as reduces the formation of blood clots, minimizing heart attack and stroke risk. All of which helps to fight against the risk of obtaining the big bad diseases listed above.
It has also been shown that green tea extract is beneficial for whole-body metabolism, particularly by increasing fat oxidation. The most effective time for green tea’s fat burning powers is when the body is at rest and has been fasted (i.e. right in the morning). Interestingly, due to this increased rate of fat burning, researchers from all over the globe are currently looking at the possibility of green tea aiding in exercise performance. Neat eh?
The only downfall to green tea consumption is that it binds to non-heme iron (the plant-based iron) and thus can inhibit iron absorption. Therefore it is best to drink your tea at least 2 hours before or after eating to avoid precious iron loss. True story.
Obviously green tea on its own is delicious, but in addition to the tried and true method, there are so many other ways one can get their G-T fix. Try infusing desserts with it. In lieu of water in any dessert recipe use steeped and chilled green tea. Throw it in your morning smoothie. Kick your marinades up a notch and use it as part of your favourite asian inspired tofu, tempeh or seitan dish. In terms of taste pairings, green tea goes well with citrus, soy, almonds, coconut in any shape or form, lemongrass, mint, basil, ginger, garlic, mango, miso, mushrooms, pistachios, and soba noodles just to list a few favourites. On top of all those fantastic disease fighting properties, green tea’s earthy flavour and aroma will add balance to almost anything.
Ancient Chinese history sure knows its tasty and medicinal herbs. Xie xie ni for sharing!