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April 11, 2011
When I sometimes feel that my approach to self-care is verging on fear-mongering preaching (“That mascara will make you blind!”, “Your sunscreen will poison your unborn babies!”) I remind myself, and others, that making your lifestyle a little healthier isn’t just about cutting out harmful stuff, it’s also about including healthy things. There are few healthy things as easy and enjoyable to incorporate into your lifestyle as green tea.
I doubt I’m surprising anybody by saying green tea is awesome — nay, incredible- for your health.
We’ve all heard the reports and studies that green tea is a superfood that will basically allow you to live forever and look really hot well into your 90s. Well, that may be a slight exaggeration, but honestly all those claims have a lot of merit. Did you poo poo all the hype when you heard it? It’s true; there is a lot of it out there, and hard to know which health claim is legit and worth investigating further, even incorporating into your regime. But truly, if you have to pick just one, start drinking green tea. Seriously, it’s almost right up there with exercise, water and vegetables. Go on. I’ll wait while you put the kettle on.
Got your mug of tea? Ok.
Green tea is Camellia Sinensis, which is the same plant black tea comes from although it isn’t fermented, which allows it to have different health benefits. It is the intense flavonoids in green tea that make it one of the best sources of anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants, by the way, are amazing at slowing down the aging process, but you knew that already.
Let me recap some of green tea’s accomplishments. From cardiovascular health to taming obesity, antioxidant-rich green tea is fighting in your corner. Long used in Asian cultures, green tea has been used as a digestive aid and to treat depression and headaches for thousands of years. Studies have also shown that green tea effectively reduces bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol levels, which is key to reducing heart disease, obesity and diabetes. It also helps treat infection, and may help with arthritis since green tea is, above all else, an intense anti-oxidant, which means it helps slow down the wear and tear on joints and cartilage. To top it all off, it helps ease water-retention, and drinking just one cup a day can help boost metabolism.
Plus, some exciting research shows that ingesting green tea is also effective against warding off the ill-effects of UV damage! Although not exactly the cure for skin-cancer, it is a promising and toxin-free way to help prevent and reduce damaged skin tissue that could lead to melanoma.
Preparing your tea is easy. Boil water, steep tea 3-5 minutes. Voila! Milk should not be added to green tea because for one, it tastes weird, and secondly because a chemical in milk actually neutralizes some of the great health benefits of the tea. Adding lemon to your tea actually counteracts the tannins in tea, which will help counteract malabsorption of iron, which can be an issue with tannins.
Green tea is incredibly cheap (I just scored 100 bags each of organic green and white tea for under $7 each!), extremely potent, and very easy to use. The downside? You have to drink about 5-6 cups of day to get the all-inclusive package deal of benefits. However, I hardly consider that a downside. I did say “cups”. As in, a regular, standard, run of the mill cup. I don’t know about you, but the cups I use aren’t exactly “normal”, they’re about a Venti at Starbucks, or an Extra-Large at Tim Hortons. So I’m estimating about 3 of those should about do it, with a little extra just in case. If the taste is off-putting at first (it really tastes “green”, if you know what I mean), you will get used to it after a few cups. The tannins in green tea make it a little bitter, but honey and lemon go a long way to “mask” the flavor, if need be.
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