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Green Tea: A Natural Alternative to Sugary Sodas

September 30, 2009 by Lynn Difley · 32 Comments  
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By Lynn Difley

green-teaIf you are looking for an alternative to soda, diet soda, or sugary beverage, I have a great idea for you–green tea. If you haven’t discovered the many benefits of drinking green tea, let me go through just some of the reasons you will want to switch from sugar-laden sodas, and make yourself a cup of tea–green tea that is.

Green tea has been around for centuries, mainly in the orient where its positive health benefits are accepted. Green tea is the second most popular beverage consumed in the world (behind water). The health benefits of green tea are mainly due to polyphenols, which are antioxidants. These substances scavenge free radicals, (damaging compounds in the body that can alter cells and cause cell death).

Free radicals are thought to contribute to the aging process as well as the development of such health problems as cancer and heart disease. The polyphenols in green tea can neutralize free radicals and reduce or even prevent some of the damage they cause.

Studies have mixed results but some of the more positive findings are that green tea may help prevent arteriosclerosis, or coronary artery disease. Research has shown that green tea lowers total cholesterol and raises the HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) in animals and people. Emerging clinical studies suggest that the polyphenols in green tea may play an important role in the prevention of cancer.

Green tea has also been shown to be helpful in reducing the inflammation associated with Cohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Green tea has been used traditionally to control blood sugar levels. It helps to regulate glucose in the body. Clinical studies suggest that green tea may boost metabolism and help to burn fat.

It is further being tested for inflammatory disease protection, such as arthritis. Initial research indicates that green tea may benefit arthritis by reducing inflammation and slowing cartilage breakdown. It is also effective in treating genital warts and preventing symptoms of colds and influenza.

If you drink two cups of green tea, you will add beneficial minerals such as manganese, selenium, chromium, and zinc, which boost metabolism by prolonging the action of norepinephrine (the fat burning accelerator hormone). Green tea also helps prevent heart disease by helping your arteries and veins to relax, boosting the blood and nutrient flow.

If you drink three cups of green tea daily, and exercise three times a week, abdominal fat loss will occur after three months, according to the Journal of Nutrition. Green tea will help you burn more fat during cardio exercise. Research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that fat burning was increased by 17 % during a 30 minute cycling test.

Green tea also has been shown to have bone benefits. Research links green tea’s phytoextrogen and fluoride to increased bone mineral density among those who regularly drink green tea for 10 years.

Now that I hope you’re psyched to drink more green tea, here are a few tips:

  • Don’t try to get a second use out of your tea bag; the first dose contains the highest amount of antioxidants.
  • Steep your tea for three minutes to release the antioxidants credited with fat loss, and dunk the bag a few times to extract additional fat burning EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) substances.
  • Use tea bags and make your own brew, bottled iced tea is loaded with sugar and has little of the good stuff you want out of your cuppa tea.

As with any herbal substance, there are some drugs which do not interact well with green tea, so be sure you check with your physician if you are on any medications to make sure you will reap the positive benefits and not cause harm by interfering with your medications. Why not go put the kettle on and start reaping the benefits of green tea?

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Comments

32 Responses to “Green Tea: A Natural Alternative to Sugary Sodas”

  1. bob conklin on September 30th, 2009 12:31 pm

    WOULD ICE GREEN TEA BE AS BENEFICIAL???

  2. Christina Bullock on September 30th, 2009 12:32 pm

    Great post Lynn!
    Over the past few weeks I’ve been switching over from diet soda to green tea for the antioxidant health benefits. I get the same caffeine fix to get me through the day, and I’ve noticed I haven’t been craving sugary treats nearly as much as before. As someone who has “suffered” from a huge sweet-tooth all my life, this is a much-needed improvement! It’s such an easy change I encourage anyone to do it.
    –Christina

  3. Kathy Dillenbeck on September 30th, 2009 12:40 pm

    Excellent article! I have read that the benefits of green tea are greatly enhanced when it is mixed with a little citrus — orange is my favorite, but lemon and lime would work as well.

  4. Vulpine on September 30th, 2009 12:51 pm

    While I agree with your article in principle (I drink tea myself most of the time,) the problem with most ’sugary’ drinks is just that, they’re not sweetened with sugar, but rather with High Fructose Corn Syrup for the non-diet varieties and either Aspartame, Sucralose or Saccharin for the diet varieties. Each of these have/had their advantages and their disadvantages.

    Starting with HFCS, it originally replaced sugar as the sweetener in sodas and other drinks because it was cheap and easy to produce. It did change the flavor of the sodas, but this was at least somewhat promoted by the “New Coke” or other ‘new’ flavoring. The drawback, which has taken years to come out into the open, is that HFCS cannot be properly digested or filtered from the body, putting extra strain on the liver and other organs and possibly becoming one of the greatest factors for American obesity. If you go to any other country in the world, where they use natural sweeteners like real sugar, honey or alternatives like Stevia, their obesity levels are far lower than ours.

    In some cases, the artificial sweeteners can be just as bad.
    Aspartame, also known as Equal, is under close scrutiny by the FDA as one study seems to conclusively show that it is a major factor causing cancer in rats… at levels lower than what someone drinking one soda a day for 20 years would consume. Nothing is official as yet, but the latest report I read suggests the FDA may completely ban Aspartame’s use as a sweetener entirely.
    Splenda may be almost as bad, though there are only a few studies that suggest this. Like HFCS, the reports indicate that the liver cannot properly filter or remove it, potentially causing premature liver failure. In this case, however, the quantities required to do such damage is more than the average person would drink in a lifetime. This data, of course, may change as more studies are run.
    Saccharin, oddly, seems to be the safest of the artificial sweeteners. Originally restricted due to the sodium content (used as a carrier,) manufacturers switched to calcium as the carrier which not only made the sales permissible again, but may have become beneficial as a source of calcium, albeit a tiny one.

    Over all of this, some of the most recent studies have demonstrated that real sugar not only tastes better and is better for you than most of the alternatives, but can also help reduce your caloric intake by reducing the ‘thirst’ brought on by them as well. This doesn’t help the producers of soft drinks any, but could greatly improve both the health and the obesity of the average American.

    Even green tea, if sweetened by anything other than sugar or a natural sweetener, can be as harmful as a soda itself.

  5. Roberta Smith on September 30th, 2009 2:16 pm

    The article was very informative…is there a certain brand of green tea that you suggest…a brand of green tea that is most beneficial & most tasty?

  6. John E. Garst, Ph.D. (Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Nutrition) on October 1st, 2009 12:27 pm

    Vulpine’s comments about aspartame safety are outdated and thoroughly rejected by science. There are three poorly understood realities.

    The first reality is that all aspartame research prior to 2009 is fatally flawed (and hence so is all criticism of aspartame based on the often cited science). It was all done in a scientifically unacceptable manner as was established in preliminary work presented at the Society of Toxicology (Seattle, USA) and the American Chemical Society (New Orleans, USA) national meetings in 2008. Full comments are currently being preparing for regular publication, but in essence it was demonstrated that inappropriate controls and Sprague-Dawley rat strains were used in all aspartame rodent research starting with the original Searle work and extending through the oft-cited European Ramazzini Foundation (ERF, Soffritti et al) work published over the past several years (and even other work thereafter). The standard control-versus-treated animal experiments are invalid for aspartame, because aspartame’s methanol (actually via its oxidation products formaldehyde and formate) depletes folic acid, but just in the aspartame-treated group. No properly done experiment can deplete a vitamin, but all experiments to date claiming problems have done just that! Second, Sprague-Dawley rats are known to become folate deficient well before the unusually long ERF experiments were completed. And those experiments showing the greatest effect (Soffritti et al) took 2-3 years and caused dose- and time-dependent depletion of this critical vitamin. Other studies not finding a problem with aspartame were either of such short duration as to avoid this issue or used diets that provided extra folate such that this issue was not encountered. But more is wrong with the ERF works. The evidence suggests their rats were folate deficient even before their experiments began.

    The second reality is that, even if you don’t believe the points above since they haven’t been published yet, then believe this! All the ERF work has been strongly rebuked, because all their rats in all their studies (aspartame and many other compounds) were infected; (prefix the following with http and www) ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19430000?ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum. The consequences of that infection are that everything they reported are artifacts of their animals being infected. This should not be a surprise. The preexisting and the treatment-worsening folate deficiency in rats clarify not only the fatal flaws in the ERF experimental design, but much more. Based on likely differing thresholds for infection and for tumor development, their rat’s folate deficiency could independently explain both their rat’s infection and perhaps activation of latent viruses uniquely linked to their rat strain development of leukemia/lymphoma.

    The third reality is that this same underlying folate issue can explain the 90+ human problems attributed by internet critics to aspartame. All these claimed diseases are folate linked diseases. The folate enzyme system metabolizes the common dietary ingredient methanol’s oxidation products formaldehyde and formate. These are innate metabolites of many substances and are required for normal biological function. In humans, however, the issue is not any aspartame depletion of folate, but widespread preexisting folate deficiency (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folate_deficiency), especially before 1998 when supplementation was begun (and this criticism of aspartame began) or folate genetic issues, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methylenetetrahydrofolate_reductase), and/or related biochemistry linked to vitamin B12 (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_B12). Folate deficiency or genetic issues facilitate formation of homocysteine. Much has been written about the “excitotoxic” amino acids that form the aspartame framework (phenylalanine and aspartic acid) by aspartame critics. However, those the phenylalanine and aspartic acid amino acids occur at far greater concentrations in everyday food, so neither of these amino acids are issues for most people. However, what seems to be consistently missed by the antiaspartame critics is that homocysteine is a far more powerful excitotoxin than any constituent of aspartame.

    Explaining problems with aspartame only suggests it is even safer. Given these new, stronger indications of safety, science no longer has any reason to doubt the safety of aspartame. And the European equivalent of the US FDA on April 20 again just validated the safety of aspartame, efsa.europa.eu/EFSA/efsa_locale-1178620753812_1211902454309.htm. Also 2009 data casts real doubt on any harm from sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners and the risk of gastric, pancreatic, and endometrial cancers in Italy (prefix with http and www), ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19661082?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum. Not only does this paper support aspartame safety, it came from a more prestigious group in the same country as the Soffritti et al work questioning aspartame safety.

    John E. Garst, Ph.D. (Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Nutrition)

    (FYI, the author has absolutely no financial or biasing connection with the aspartame, the soft drink or their related industries. The author has a Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry (Pharmacy) from the University of Iowa, postdoctoral experience at Yale University (Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry) and at Vanderbilt University and taught nutritional toxicology at the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) besides having conducted federally funded research at Vanderbilt, UIUC, and at several other universities before recently entering into retirement.)

  7. Vulpine on October 1st, 2009 9:11 pm

    While I can’t directly argue the Doctor’s statements, all I know is that less than 2 weeks ago, a report came out that the FDA was considering flat banning the use of aspartame altogether. I admit I haven’t heard anything supporting or denying this allegation up to now.

    In other words, the reports that the FDA are considering ARE 2009 studies.

  8. Vulpine on October 1st, 2009 9:45 pm

    In counterpoint to my earlier comments about aspartame, I find that I’ve been a victim of the propaganda machine. What I discovered is not necessarily that the FDA is considering the banning of the substance, but rather that an individual, again, is submitting strong requests to the FDA to ban it. For this, I must then apologize to everyone who read my discussion about aspartame as it was based on, as the doctor put it, obsolete information reinforced by a new attempt to ban it.

    However, to me it seems unusual that lab rats allowed to die a ‘natural’ death after living on an aspartame diet would have such a high incidence of cancers. The problem with the reports, as analyzed by the FDA over the last couple years, is that there doesn’t appear to be any ‘control group’ to refute or support the studies that make these claims. Are lab rats naturally susceptible to cancers? Are these particular rats being fed such high quantities that they can’t help but be weakened? (One report indicated something over 3 grams/kilogram/day or the equivalent of 30 grams for a 25-pound child or 240grams for a 150-pound adult. That’s a rough equivalent of drinking 20 diet sodas per day.)

    In other words, without conclusive evidence to the contrary, you’d have to drink over a gallon of diet soda every day to even get close to the equivalent amount fed to these rats. (Of course, aspartame can be found in other foods, too, but careful study of the product labeling should tell you.) I don’t know about you, but I don’t intend to drink that much of anything but water on a daily basis.

  9. John E. Garst, Ph.D. (Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Nutrition) on October 1st, 2009 11:37 pm

    Vulpine:

    Please carefully read my “second reality point” and look at the reference, goto pubmed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/) and enter 19430000. This paper strongly indicates that the “hymphomas/leukemias” reported by Soffritti et al were not cancers at all, but artifacts of infection in their rats. By the way no toxicologists but them use lifetime studies, because they introduce errors of diet, genetics, etc (just like I reported with folate deficiency) that do not develop in shorter-term work.

    To all readers, I have extensively studied the aspartame science and there is not a single scientific paper showing any harm from aspartame that didn’t involve bad science (explainable by folate deficiency (rats), folate genetic issues (people), or homocysteine (people) or by incomplete science (Trocho et al) where proper identification of the radiolabel binding would have documented not harm, but safety.

    John E. Garst, Ph.D. (Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Nutrition)

  10. Jerry Fisher on October 3rd, 2009 8:16 am

    what has this to do with rv’s

  11. Lynn Difley on October 3rd, 2009 3:00 pm

    John and Volpine why don’t you guys brew a nice big cup of green tea and sit down together to discuss this.

    Roberta- Trader Joe’s has several delicious green tea blends, and I like the Yoga Tea selections too. If you don’t have access to either one, try what is available to you and let us all know your favorite. Lynn

  12. Jason Witt on October 6th, 2009 2:59 am

    Just don’t add any milk or sugar to your tea and you won’t get all those unwanted calories and fat. Try a loose leaf tea. It’ll be higher-quality and you won’t need to put any adulterants in. –Teaternity

  13. Suzyq on October 6th, 2009 11:20 am

    I have been drinking green and white tea for years and find it to be delicious, health beneficial and all this gobble di gook about artificial sweeteners has nothing to do with drinking pure unsweetened green or white tea. If you are going to put garbage like that in your drink then drink Koolaid which is also loaded with food coloring. So therefore, drink unsweetend green or white tea or plain old Water.

  14. Sharon on October 6th, 2009 11:46 am

    Hello,

    Thanks for the helpful information. One thing to note is that adding any dairy to your tea will make any of the health benefits of your tea moot. The dairy protein binds to the tea catechin called EGCG which then doesn’t absorb into the body. Soy milk does not impact the health benefits so go ahead and use that.

    For more detail, please see my blog site on the health benefits of all types of teas ranging from green to black teas: http://www.shar-on-nutrition.com/?p=75

    Would love to know what you think so please feel free to leave comments, suggestion! :)

  15. Ann Trenton on September 28th, 2010 2:57 am

    I’m a tea addict. I could never get through an entire day without a cup of freshly-brewed loose green tea. The smell alone is enough to make my mouth water and the delicious sensation of fresh hot tea sliding down my throat is something that I always take time to relish during my tea break. Green tea has tons of health benefits and is a great source of antioxidants. The ever increasing sale of green tea actually, is due to its ability to produce fat oxidation. This simply means that drinking green tea will act directly on your body to lessen your fats because of its natural oxidizing property

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    The thing you need to remember about lonsig weight is it is different for everyone,and you do need to exercise, eat more vegies and fruits. many people need food from all four food groups, but when lonsig weight each person should get doctors advice maybe you can ask your doctor, he/she can help you further J J

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