How Healthy is Green Tea? Does it have Side Effects? Health experts Answer
Green tea is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However, high doses of it have been linked to liver damage.
Green tea is a super food that has several antioxidant benefits for the body
A recent study shows high doses of green tea being linked to liver damage
Experts share that high amounts of green tea could increase sugar cravings as well
Green tea is one of the least processed types of tea that is infused with antioxidants. It is known to reduce inflammation due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
According to Dr Ayush Dhingra, Associate Director, Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Endoscopy, Max Hospital, Gurugram, green tea is better than black tea as it has more antioxidant potential.
“Being rich in EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), green tea is less acidic as compared to black tea,” said Dr Dhingra.
Megha Jaina, Clinical Nutritionist and Diet Expert, BLK-MAX Hospital, New Delhi, called green tea a super food which has come into the food industry in the last 5 to 7 years. However, she disagrees with myths around green tea being linked to weight loss.
“It is only beneficial if we talk about less caffeine intake. It is beneficial for water intake or anxiety issues or having a warm cup of tea in this cold winter weather. Statements like, ‘it has no caffeine’ or ‘green tea increases metabolism’ or ‘helps in weight loss’ have no merit. It is an antioxidant drink but myths like drinking excessive amounts of green tea will help bring changes in lifestyle disorders are untrue,” said Megha Jaina.
A recent study showed that long-term consumption of high-dose green tea extract may cause liver damage. However, it might provide protection against cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.
The research, published in The Journal of Dietary Supplements, used data from the Minnesota Green Tea Trial, which is a large study of green tea’s effect on breast cancer. The team investigated whether people with certain genetic variations were more likely than others to show signs of liver stress after a year of ingesting 843 milligrams per day of the predominant antioxidant in green tea, a catechin called EGCG.
“Learning to predict who will suffer liver damage is potentially important because there’s growing evidence that high dose green tea extract may have significant health benefits for those who can safely take it,” said Hamed Samavat, senior author of the study and an assistant professor of nutrition sciences at the Rutgers School of Health Professions.
Dr Dhingra vouched for the benefits of green tea when consumed in moderation, but high doses of it may be linked to liver damage.
“Excessive amounts of anything leads to liver damage. It’s true with green tea also, it has antioxidant properties, but more than 24 cups of green tea in a day or green tea extracts present in fat-cutters and food supplements can be detrimental for the liver,” he said.
Megha Jaina explained that people should have a balanced green tea programme.
“If a person isn’t exercising or following a diet programme, the risk of liver damage is higher as there is caffeine present in green tea. Excessive amounts of caffeine are known to cause liver damage. Many other kinds of tea like white tea or Matcha tea have come up in the recent past as well, with people consuming several cups without taking into account the benefits of these teas and if they are suitable for them. Several patches can be seen on the liver if a person takes these high potency drinks which are very warm and can be harmful to the liver,” she said.
Unlike Dr Dhingra, Megha Jaina said that both green tea and black tea aren’t beneficial for the body because of high amounts of caffeine that result in anxiety disorders or cravings for sugar products.
“Instead of green tea, a person can make herbal tea at home by adding a pinch of cinnamon powder in water, because it’s all about the flavour and aroma of drinking a hot cup of water. In my opinion, herbal tea is better than both green and black tea,” she said.
Does green tea have any side effects? “A person could have anxiety issues along with sleeping disorders and sweet cravings for people consuming excessive amounts of green tea,” she added.
Contributed By Daphne Clarance