First drunk around 2700BC, Green Tea has compounds that may provide powerful protection against cancers and heart disease as well as fighting infections and improving longevity.

Its key ingredients are powerful anti-oxidants called polyphenols which help protect cells against damage. One large scale study in China found that people who drank green tea had much lower rates of rectal, pancreatic and colon cancers. In women the risk of rectal and pancreatic cancer was nearly halved! Preliminary research has indicated in might also protect against breast, stomach and skin cancers.

Scientists believe its main polyphenol – EGCG – may be one of the most powerful anti-cancer compounds ever discovered. One US study found that EGCG prompts cancer cells to stop reproducing! Research at the medical college of Ohio indicates that EGCG inhibits the production of urokinase, an enzyme that cancer cells need in order to grow. These polyphenols may also help protect the heart as a Japanese study of 1371 men linked daily consumption to the prevention of heart disease.

You can either drink green tea or get green tea capsules to get the benefits. You need to aim for about 240mg of the polyphenols daily. Green tea however normally has a lot of caffeine whereas capsules generally have very small amounts, so these might be preferable. Be careful, if using supplements, buy those standardised to contain at least 50% polyphenols, so that you only have to take a small amount of capsules to achieve the desired level of polyphenols.

Green tea is very safe as a supplement but always consult a nutritionist if you are on lots of medication. Keep supplements 3 hours away from medications at all times. Pregnant and breast-feeding women should consult their doctor or a nutritionist for correct levels allowed.

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