Sunday, January 18, 2015

Green Tea Debate Heats Up!

A green tea debate currently rages. On one hand of the debate, health nuts and newly-converted adherents proclaim that green tea is the nearest thing to a cure-all beverage that man has ever encountered. On the other hand, official health authorities have been quite guarded and cautious in contributing to the praises sung in behalf of this lowly Asian brew.

Since the early 1990s, the health scene has been agog with the talk that green tea appeared to help fight off cancers when drunk by lab mice or when rubbed on their skin. Asian society had actually been several centuries ahead of the West and an 18 th Century Chinese Emperor had actually declared that "it was that precious drink which drives away the five causes of sorrow."

However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had ruled in June 2005 that there had been "no credible evidence" green tea fights cancers of the stomach, lung, colon, esophagus, pancreas or ovary. The agency, however, acknowledged that the evidence for tea fighting breast or prostate cancer was somewhat better, although it also said the link was "highly unlikely" because the evidence on humans wasn't conclusive enough.

Scientists say that despite the unanswered questions, green tea still shows promise, not only as a potential cancer protector but also against other health threats, such as cardiovascular disease and possibly Alzheimer's Disease. But they are also aware that not all findings applicable to animals in controlled conditions necessarily applied to humans.

Green tea is made from the dried leaves of Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub native to Asia. Green tea is made by steaming the crushed leaves shortly after harvest, destroying enzymes so that chemicals aren't oxidized very much.

Green tea is abundant in certain antioxidant chemicals called flavonoids, which obstruct the action of cell-damaging free radicals. It has high levels of a group of flavonoids called catechins. A potent catechin, epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, is pinpointed as the agent in green tea that provides it with its vaunted healing properties.

However, the FDA and the American Cancer Society have largely concluded that more research is needed to show that green tea helps prevent cancer, and many other scientists concur.

Still, most agree that including green tea in one's daily diet doesn't do any harm and may even be beneficial to one's well-being.


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