Green Tea is produced by the Camellia Sinensis plant, also know as the Assam Tea Plant. It is widely known as an antioxidant and for its rich content of EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) which is thought to be responsible for its therapeutic health properties. A little known fact is that Green Tea is also a nutritional powerhouse containing over 200 therapeutic compounds .
What Bioactive Compounds are found naturally in Green Tea?
Green Tea is naturally rich in the following compounds:
Polyphenols are compounds that are thought to be protective against ill health. There are a number of different types, Green tea is most rich in Flavonols and Theogallin. Green Tea leaves are thought to contain between 7-14% polyphenolic content, flavonols make up the bulk of this percentage. The most potent flavonols in Green Tea are Quercetin, Kaempferol and Myricetin. On the other hand, Theogallin is only found in Green Tea. These provide rich antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Tannins are another type of polyphenol that give tea its distinctive colour and tangy taste. Tannins are found in many plants but are typically associated with tea. Tannins are thought to have a calming effect on the body. When consuming these compounds you must be aware that too much may cause an upset stomach and reduce your ability to absorb Iron.
Caffeine is a well-known compound found in teas, coffees, and energy drinks worldwide. Caffeine is an alkaloid that targets and stimulates the central nervous system (CNS). It does so by blocking the chemical Adensoine that is used to make the body feel calm. Often when Caffeine is consumed it makes the body feel more alert and energetic. The content of Caffeine will vary but it’s thought that approximately 4% of Green Tea is Caffeine. Caffeine is said to induce feelings of energy, increase concentration and stamina.
Theanine is an amino acid, the chemical content of Green Tea is approximately 6%, but this will vary. Theanine is thought to be the reason Green tea is relaxing. It may seem bizarre that Green Tea contains Caffeine (stimulant) and Theanine (relaxant), however, the reason why Green tea has such a mild uplifting boost is because it contains Theanine. On average a cup of Green Tea will provide 15-30mg of Caffeine, which is enough to stimulate the body, however, because it also contains Theanine it instead gives the body a gentle boost. Although, more research is required into its effects Theanine has been shown to reduce blood pressure, increase concentration and protect the CNS from damage .
What Vitamins and Minerals are found in Green Tea?
Green Tea is abundant in essential Vitamins and Minerals for the body’s health, including:
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B3
- Vitamin B6
- Folic Acid (Vitamin B9)
- Vitamin C
- Beta-Carotene (Vitamin A)
- Vitamin E
Green Tea is a low calorie product as it contains no traces of fat and very little carbohydrate. B-Vitamins are often described as a complex, within Green tea there is Vitamin B2, B3, B6 and B9 (Folic acid). Vitamin B2 is also known as Riboflavin, according to the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) B2 is responsible for energy metabolism, reducing feelings of fatigue. Additionally, it is required for Iron metabolism, cell division, red blood cell production and protection of tissues. On the other hand Vitamin B3, or Niacin contributes to normal physiological, nervous and energy systems. It also plays a vital role in skin health. Vitamin B6, is required for promotion of the energy and nervous systems, it is also required for blood cell formation and a healthy immune system. Vitamin B9, is almost always referred to as Folic acid or Folate this is deemed most important when pregnant as it prevents Neural Tube Defects developing in the child. Additionally, it is used for cell formation and contributes normal nervous, immune and energy systems.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin also known as Ascorbate. It is abundant in Green tea and required for energy and collagen production, immune system health and antioxidant properties. Vitamin A comes in two forms, Retinol or Beta-carotene. The latter can only be found in plant products. Vitamin A is best known for its contribution to normal vision, skin, and immune system. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that is hugely beneficial in disease prevention according to EFSA.
27mg of Potassium is found in every 100ml of Green tea , it is linked to maintenance of normal blood pressure and contributes to the efficacy of muscle function. Many think Calcium is only found in dairy products but it is also found in Green tea. Calcium is required for healthy bones, teeth and muscle contraction. Phosphorus and Manganese are needed for healthy maintenance of bones and teeth, but also for energy production.
What Other Compounds are found In Green Tea?
- Chlorophyll, is the powerhouse of photosynthesis and the green pigmentation found in plants.
- Fluorine, has been shown via many scientific trials to improve mouth and dental health. It’s most effective at preventing cavities.
- Saponins, these are found in all teas. Saponins are responsible for the tangy flavour and the astringent mouth feel when drinking tea. Astringency describes the dry mouth sensation you get during consumption. Although very little research has been conducted on these compounds they have been shown to lower blood pressure and help combat obesity.
- Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a chemical used in our brains, however, in tea leaves it’s thought to simply lower blood pressure.
Consider Green Tea for more than its EGCG content and start thinking of it as your new all-round nutritional health beverage.
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- Itoen. (2016). Major Components and Health Benefits of Green Tea.Available: http://www.itoen.co.jp/eng/allabout_greentea/components_benefit.html.
- Green Tea Nutrition Facts. (2016). Green Tea Nutrition - Ingredients in Green Tea. Available: http://www.greenteanutritionfacts.com/green-tea-nutritional-information/green-tea-nutrition/.