For centuries green tea has been prized not only for its delicate and exceptionally refreshing taste, but for its role in maintaining good health. As with many other traditional remedies, a great many studies have been conducted around the world to try to assess green tea’s health benefits. These studies have focused particularly its potential to fight cancer and heart disease as well as its role in lowering cholesterol, burning fat, preventing diabetes and stroke, and staving off dementia.

A Powerhouse of Antioxidants

The health benefits of green tea are believed to be due to its high content of antioxidants. Green tea is the best food source of a particular group of antioxidants known as catachins catechins. In test tubes, catechins are more powerful than vitamins C and E in halting oxidative damage to cells and appear to have other disease-fighting properties. Studies have found an association between consuming green tea and a reduced risk for several cancers, including, skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal, and bladder.

Green tea’s antioxidants scavenge for free radicals that can damage DNA and contribute to cancer, blood clots, and atherosclerosis. Because of green tea’s minimal processing, green tea’s unique catechins, especially epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), are more concentrated.

“The evidence certainly suggests that incorporating at least a few cups of green tea every day will positively affect your health,” says Diane McKay, PhD, a Tufts University scientist who studies antioxidants. “It’s not going to cure anything and it shouldn’t be consumed as a drug, but it can complement the rest of the diet.”

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