Green Tea, The Fitness Power Drink

Green tea? In a field glutted with performance beverages that promise you'll get ripped, zipped and buff, green tea may seem tepid. Think again. Green tea, hot or cold, may be the single most beneficial beverage a fitness-oriented person can swallow -- besides water.

Why is green tea of particular value to the fitness set? Despite the benefits of exercise, there is one drawback to working out. Exercise increases oxidation in the body, the deterioration of cells as a result of chemical reactions involving oxygen. Oxidation produces free radicals, which cause damage to DNA, lipids and protein, destroying membranes, altering genes and injuring cells. They contribute to aging and the promotion and severity of numerous health problems, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. Free radicals are generated primarily as a result of breathing oxygen. Thus aerobic exercise can lead to increased cellular damage as a result of increased breathing. This is where mighty green tea plays a role in a personal fitness program.

Green tea contains a family of powerful antioxidant compounds known as polyphenols. There are four primary polyphenols in green tea. While all four appear to possess protective value, Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg) occurs in the greatest concentration, and appears to offer the strongest antioxidant benefits. In fact, EGCg is several times more potent an antioxidant than vitamin E.

According to extensive research conducted worldwide, green tea:

• Protects against several types of cancer.

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• Lowers cholesterol by inhibiting cholesterol absorption and reducing the body’s cholesterol production.

• Reduces blood pressure by the exact same mechanism by which several expensive, prescription blood pressure medicines work.

• Reduces blood platelet stickiness, thus inhibiting atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries.

• Demonstrates anti-bacterial action against the bacteria that cause dental plaque.

• Promotes the growth of beneficial Bifidobacteria in the intestines.

• Protects against certain toxins, including harmful bacteria in foods.

• Protects against adverse effects of radiation.

The easiest way to derive the health benefits of green tea is to drink it. Three eight-ounce cups of green tea daily will give you a significant amount of protective polyphenols, including approximately 375 milligrams of EGCg. That amount is sufficient to provide the benefits described above. Whenever you have a choice, use green tea that is organically grown, without pesticides. This is the purest green tea available.

Drinking green tea is not the only way to derive its benefits, though it is the simplest and least expensive way. You can also find green tea supplements in many natural food stores. Choose products which state on the label that they are standardized to guarantee a potency of at least 40 percent green tea polyphenols. Two 500 milligram capsules daily will give you approximately 375 milligrams of EGCg, the same as three cups of green tea.

I predict that we will see a lot more green tea around. As more people come to realize the need for ever-greater antioxidant protection, green tea stands to become one of the most popular drinks of all time

Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. He teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is Explorer In Residence. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide. His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Read more at