Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Nourishing Bytes: Green Tea

What better way to begin my posts on the topic of nutrition than with what I start my day with every morning:  Green Tea.  Those who know me well know that I began my day with something very different from green tea for many years of my life.  I have never been a coffee drinker.  Although I love the smell of coffee, I am just not a fan of the taste, or how it lingers forever on one's breath.  Instead, my morning ritual of choice in the past involved about 16-20 ounces of Dr. Pepper.

I knew it was bad for me. Pop (or as those down here call it, "Coke" (which is so weird in my opinion) or "Soda"), is so bad for your health.  There have been so many news stories published lately about just how bad it is for you.  It's got to be pretty bad if New York City actually banned the sale of large sodas (over 16 ounces). And other cities are beginning to follow suit.  And the cause of concern is not just the sugar or high fructose corn syrup--it's also the artificial caramel coloring used.  It's not just the sugary sodas that are bad for you though.  Diet sodas are just as bad for several other reasons.  Most diet sodas are sweetened with Aspartame.  Aspartame is deserving of its own blog post, because it is so bad for you.  It has no place in our house.  But, I'm not going to get on my soapbox about aspartame right now.  I'm also not going to go into all of the many reasons that pop is bad for you, because the focus of this post is on the fabulousness (did I just make that word up?) of green tea and how I became a daily green tea drinker.  But, I am going to link several recent news articles here in case you would like to explore just how bad pop is for you:

So, just know that I was once one of Dr. Pepper's biggest fans.  I love(d) the stuff.  I was addicted to the stuff.  It may sound silly to some to hear I was addicted to something like Dr. Pepper, but it couldn't be more true.  Actually, I remember a very specific moment during one of the several times I was trying to quit very vividly.  I was walking into one of my favorite places that served Dr. Pepper via fountain.  As I was contemplating whether I was going to purchase a cup of the deliciousness, I asked myself the question, "What if I knew for a fact that drinking a daily Dr. Pepper would cause cancer?  Would I buy it and drink it anyway?"  I'm sad to say that I drank it that day.  It was at that moment that I realized I had an addiction.  That must be what cigarette smokers go through.  They have to know it is terrible for them and that it is known for a fact to cause cancer, yet something causes them to want to continue to smoke.  I had tried so many different methods to quit.  I tried quitting cold turkey.  I tried swapping the stuff out for iced tea.  I tried swapping it out for juice.  But, I would often go back to it.  When I got my cancer diagnosis and I began researching what would become my new nutritious lifestyle, I finally was able to give it up.  I attribute the final ability to quit and never turn back to spending lots of time in prayer.  Specifically, I prayed for self control.  Because that is really what it was all about--I had no self control over drinking Dr. Pepper. My body wanted to fulfill the daily craving and my mind let it.  Instead of giving in to the urges, I began focusing on what my purpose is here on earth:  to Glorify God with everything--including my body.

After I had read countless articles, and a couple of books about cancer prevention and fighting cancer naturally, I started to see a common denominator.  Every single one of these documents mentioned green tea.  I always knew tea was good for me and I actually drank it quite a bit-but in iced tea form. I have never enjoyed hot tea.  Because I was an iced tea drinker, I drank black tea.  You just don't see green tea brewed as an iced beverage.  Anyway, back to why it is so good for you.  Even if you go to basic websites like about.com, you will find a plethora of information about the benefits of green tea.   (From About.com): For example, in 1994 the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published the results of an epidemiological study indicating that drinking green tea reduced the risk of esophageal cancer in Chinese men and women by nearly sixty percent. University of Purdue researchers recently concluded that a compound in green tea inhibits the growth of cancer cells. There is also research indicating that drinking green tea lowers total cholesterol levels, as well as improving the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to bad (LDL) cholesterol. 

The secret of green tea lies in the fact it is rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a powerful anti-oxidant: besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, it kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. It has also been effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels, and inhibiting the abnormal formation of blood clots. The latter takes on added importance when you consider that thrombosis (the formation of abnormal blood clots) is the leading cause of heart attacks and stroke.

Green Tea is awesome. Can you believe it even helps to prevent tooth decay AND it has bacteria-destroying abilities that help prevent food poisoning?  

For those who are like me and enjoy iced tea over hot tea, don't be afraid to drink green tea as iced tea.   In my opinion, iced green tea tastes even better than black iced tea.  I just brew some organic green tea and then pour it over ice.  To add even more nutritional value, I often add fresh juice from half a lemon.


If you want to drink green tea that has the most health benefits, it is best to drink it fresh brewed.   I find a lot of bottled beverages have WAY too many ingredients.  You really need to turn the bottle around to look at the ingredient listing.  I am happy to say that Dr. Pepper has no place in my life now, and I am, instead, really enjoying my daily dose of iced green tea in the morning.  If you are trying to kick the soda habit also, I would encourage you to make it to the two-week mark.  Once you get there, the cravings really seem to diminish drastically.  The key is to never have it in your home when you are trying to eliminate it from your diet. 

I will leave you with 25 reasons why Green Tea is AWESOME!  (as posted by Sarabjit Jagirdar on thirdage.com)

 1. Green tea and cancer: Green tea helps reduce the risk of cancer. The antioxidant in green tea is 100 times more effective than vitamin C and 24 times better than vitamin E. This helps your body at protecting cells from damage believed to be linked to cancer.
2. Green tea and heart disease: Green tea helps prevent heart disease and stroke by lowering the level of cholesterol. Even after the heart attack it prevents cell deaths and speeds up the recovery of heart cells.
3. Green tea and Anti-aging: Green tea contains an antioxidant known as polyphenols which fight against free radicals. What this means is it helps you fight against aging and promotes longevity.
4. Green tea and weight loss: Green tea helps with your bodies' weight loss. Green tea burns fat and boosts your metabolism rate naturally. It can help you burn up to 70 calories in just one day. That translates to 7 pounds in one year.
5. Green tea and skin: The antioxidant in green tea protects the skin from the harmful effects of free radicals, which cause wrinkling and skin aging. Green tea also helps fight against skin cancer.
6. Green tea and arthritis: Green tea can help prevent and reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Green tea has benefit for your health as it protects the cartilage by blocking the enzyme that destroys cartilage.
7. Green tea and bones: The very key to this is high fluoride content found in green tea. It helps keep your bones strong. If you drink green tea every day, this will help you preserve your bone density.
8. Green tea and cholesterol: Green tea can help lower cholesterol level. It also improves the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol, by reducing bad cholesterol level.
9. Green tea and obesity: Green tea prevents obesity by stopping the movement of glucose in fat cells. If you are on a healthy diet, exercise regularly and drink green tea, it is unlikely you'll be obese.
10. Green tea and diabetes: Green tea improves lipid and glucose metabolism, prevents sharp increases in blood sugar level and balances your metabolism rate.
11. Green tea and Alzheimers: Green tea helps boost your memory. And although there's no cure for Alzheimer's it helps slow the process of reduced acetylcholine in the brain, which leads to Alzheimer's.
12. Green tea and Parkinson's: Antioxidants in green tea helps prevent against cell damage in the brain which could cause Parkinson's. People drinking green tea also are less likely to progress with Parkinson's.
13. Green tea and liver disease: Green tea helps prevent transplant failure in people with liver failure. Researches showed that green tea destroys harmful free radicals in fatty livers.
14. Green tea and high blood pressure: Green tea helps prevent high blood pressure. Drinking green tea helps keep your blood pressure down by repressing angiotensin, which leads to high blood pressure.
15. Green tea and food poisoning: Catechin found in green tea can kill bacteria which causes food poisoning and kills the toxins produced by those bacteria.
16. Green tea and blood sugar: Blood sugar tends to increase with age, but polyphenols and polysaccharides in green tea help lower your blood sugar level.
17. Green tea and immunity: Polyphenols and flavonoids found in green tea help boost your immune system, making your health stronger in fighting against infections.
18. Green tea and cold and flu: Green tea prevents you from getting a cold or flu. Vitamin C in green tea helps you treat the flu and the common cold.
19. Green tea and asthma: Theophyline in green tea relaxes the muscles which support the bronchial tubes, reducing the severity of asthma.
20. Green tea and ear infection: Green tea helps with ear infection problem. For natural ear cleaning soak a cotton ball in green tea and clean the infected ear.
21. Green tea and herpes: Green tea increases the effectiveness of topical interferon treatment of herpes. First green tea compress is applied, and then let the skin dry before the interferon treatment.
22. Green tea and tooth decay: Green tea destroys bacteria and viruses that cause many dental diseases. It also slows the growth of bacteria which leads to bad breath.
23. Green tea and stress: L-the theanine, which is a kind of amino acids in green tea, can help relieve stress and anxiety.
24. Green tea and allergies: EGCG found in green tea relieves allergies. So if you have allergies, you should really consider drinking green tea.
25. Green tea and HIV: Scientists in Japan have found that EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) in green tea can stop HIV from binding to healthy immune cells. What this means is that green tea can help stop the HIV virus from spreading.

So go enjoy some green tea and know you are doing your body good!


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