How to Boost the Health Benefits of Green Tea

My favorite green tea picture, from walax.org

I love green tea, not only for its taste, but for the health benefits green tea provides. It is a rich source of polyphenols, which act as the antioxidants that scavenge and destroy free radicals. Free radicals are compounds with an unbound electron that wreak havoc on the skin and body, increase the aging process and facilitate cancer growth. We need those antioxidants to combat those bad guys!

Recent research from Purdue University has shown that squeezing a bit of citrus juice, namely lemon, orange and grapefruit, into green tea can help increase the catechin absorbabilty quite significantly. In fact, adding ascorbic acid (found in citrus juice) can increase three times the amount of catechins absorbed.  Absorption is an important aspect in nutrition, as your body cannot use the raw materials your diet provides to help build and repair if absorption of nutrients is low.

This study says there seems to be a link between the vitamin C in citrus juice to the enhanced rate of absorbability of catechins (a class of polyphenols) in green tea. The researcher recommends drinking a glass of juice with green tea if a person doesn’t desire squeezing lemon or grapefruit into the tea. This is one of the worst suggestions in the study (and there are two).

First of all, just one glass of any fruit juice (8 oz) contains around 3-5 fruits. A human being would not naturally consume this amount of fruits in one sitting, and especially not in the 1 minute it takes to drink the beverage. Secondly, fruit juices contain none of the fiber from the whole fruit, meaning that the natural sugars will cause a major blood sugar and insulin spike, leading to inflammation, and, if reoccurring, insulin insensitivity.

The high amount of fructose in fruit juice is also a major concern.

If that’s not enough, the researchers suggest that adding sucrose to the tea can help increase absorption of antioxidants. Sucrose is table sugar, and is a combination of fructose and glucose (about equal amounts). The glucose will also cause a major insulin and blood sugar spike. Even if the sucrose does increase absorption rate, I suspect it is very minimal, and sugar will only help increase the production of free radicals in the body.

The best message and take away with this study? Increase the health benefits of green tea by adding lemon juice (or lime, grapefruit or orange). Freshly squeeze the juice so you have the raw, unpasteurized product. Green tea is an excellent beautyfying, health promoting drink that I believe everyone should enjoy, either caffeinated or caffeine-free. Add a bit of xylitol and stevia to create a sweet tea, if you so desire. and enjoy the benefits! I like my drinks bitter most of the time, but will occasionally add a little bit of sweeteness to suit my tastes.

This is The Healthy Advocate.

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