Can Green Tea Be Harmful to Your Health?

tea swerved in traditional cups and teapot
Image by gadost0 from Pixabay

Impacts of green tea catechins: blood pressure, heart health, bone health, weight loss, depression, diabetes, protein synthesis, nervous system, cancer

Green tea is consistently featured in the list of the healthiest beverages in the world, and for good reason. It belongs to the Camellia family of plants and is loaded with antioxidants and flavonoids such as catechins. It has been hailed, for years, for its potential health benefits from fighting off infections to promoting general well-being.

Recently, there has been an upsurge in experimental and clinical trials involving green tea—particularly catechins or epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is found in various plants, especially green tea. You will often see the terms EGCG and catechin used interchangeably.

Catechins are regarded as the most beneficial green tea components with antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and defensive properties against infections and adverse cardiovascular conditions.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY PROPERTIES

Catechins can increase the production of specialized proteins that relieve inflammation. Additionally, catechins’ antioxidant properties may inhibit free radicals, reducing oxidative stress in your blood vessels.

Significant results via catechins include increased antioxidant enzyme activity and drastic improvements in cholesterol levels. Additionally, a noticeable increase in the HDL (good cholesterol) to the LDL (bad cholesterol) ratio has been observed. The anti-inflammatory and cholesterol impact of catechins substantially promotes a healthy functioning cardiovascular system.


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DEFENSE AGAINST CARDIOVASCULAR DISORDERS

Following their research, pharmacologists from the Rajendra Institute of Technology and Sciences stated catechins “have the ability to prevent atherosclerosis, hypertension, endothelial dysfunction, ischemic heart diseases, cardiomyopathy, cardiac hypertrophy and congestive heart failure.”

Catechins displayed the ability to decrease oxidative stress within cells and impede platelet clusters. Platelet clusters stick together and grow over time forming clots that can clog arteries. Preventing cluster formation has been proven to halt incidences of inflammation and blood clots within the cardiovascular system.

POTENTIAL DANGERS

Unfortunately, advocates of mega-dosing have suggested that high doses of green tea extract are better for you than simply drinking green tea. They fail to realize that high doses of green tea extract resulted in moderate to severe liver damage in several individuals. The associated term is hepatotoxicity, which stands for chemically induced liver damage.

Many popular fat-burning products utilize green tea extract as a primary agent. Studies have shown the detrimental effects of fat-burning products on the liver. I strongly caution against ingesting high doses of green tea extract. Losing a few pounds on the front end is not worth damaging one of the most important organs in your body.

Conversely, the healthier your liver, the better your opportunity to lose weight and protect your heart. Your liver is a critical gateway to general health. Protect it at all costs.

To offer some perspective on naturally occurring levels versus supplemental doses, consider that many green tea extract products boast 1,000 mg of EGCG per dose. In contrast, an 8-ounce cup of green tea averages 30–100 mg of EGCG. 

HEAVY METALS

Sadly, China, one of the largest tea-producing nations in the world, has the highest levels of lead in their tea. Additionally, popular low-cost brands in the USA have higher levels of lead and other metals stemming from tea imports.

Fortunately, most of the lead content is contained inside the leaves, and very little, if any, is released into the brewed fluid. Do not chew, suck, or swallow the leaves. Unfortunately, matcha tea requires drinking the ground leaves. If that tea is imported from China, consumers are ingesting lead and other harmful substances. The same is true of organic teas from that region.

Japanese tea has among the lowest lead content when compared to other tea exporters.

HOW MUCH AND HOW OFTEN

Although mega-dosing on EGCG may be enticing to some, two to four cups of green tea should work wonders for your heart and weight-loss goals. Loose leaf tea is often fresher than bagged tea and likely contains higher levels of healthy substances. Bagged tea is often more convenient.

I caution against supplementing green tea extracts containing more than 300 mg of EGCG per dose. Fifty to 200 mg once or twice a day (several hours apart) may be safe for your liver. If you currently have a liver condition, consult with your doctor.

GREEN TEA TIPS

Green teas are often recommended to steep at 150–170°F for two to four minutes. Yet, some studies indicate temperatures near boiling release more catechins. Water boils at 212°F (100°C). One exhaustive study from 2019 resulted in peak catechin levels within green tea steeped at 203°F for ten minutes. The difference was approximately 67 mg of catechins versus 58 mg in tea steeped at 140°F. Whichever temperature you choose, steeping five to ten minutes appears to release higher levels of catechins.

For optimum flavor, it has been suggested to add water before it comes to a full boil. I bring my water to a boil and allow it to cool for a minute or so. It has been suggested that drinking beverages at or above 149°F increases the risk of developing esophagus cancer. The esophagus is a muscle-lined tube connecting your throat to your stomach. Allow your tea to cool to a temperature that will not scald your throat or esophagus.

Regarding bagged tea, nothing prevents you from using more than one bag per cup. If you are an avid coffee drinker, you will likely lose two to five pounds just by switching to green or black tea. I lost four pounds in only two weeks after making the switch. Black teas are more oxidized than green tea, offering significantly lower levels of catechins. Habitual coffee drinkers may also consider substituting one or more cups of coffee per day with green tea.

Copyright 2022. All Rights Reserved.
Printed with permission of the author

Book by this Author:

BOOK: Heart Disease & Hypertension

Heart Disease & Hypertension: Vitamin Therapy™ for a Healthy Heart
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book cover of Heart Disease & Hypertension: Vitamin Therapy™ for a Healthy Heart by Bryant LuskMillions of people unknowingly suffer from one or more forms of heart disease, which can lead to low energy, low endurance, high blood pressure, heart attack, or sudden cardiac arrest. Are you one of them? This easy-to-follow vitamin therapy approach is designed to fuel your natural ability to reverse hypertension, increase energy, and prevent or reverse heart disease no matter when you start. Men and women at any age benefit from a healthy heart! 

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About the Author

photo of Bryant LuskBryant Lusk is a military veteran who grew up on the south side of Chicago. Despite the challenges of gang violence and poverty, he became a successful Safety Inspector and Quality Control Specialist with the United States Government. He spent four years in the United States Air Force.

Bryant's desire to serve and protect others led him to begin writing his Share the Health book series, aiming to treat debilitating conditions. He is the author of Osteoporosis & Osteopenia: Vitamin Therapy for Stronger Bones and It’s Not the Cans: The Best Nutrient Balance for a Stronger and Healthier You. The above article is excerpted from his book Heart Disease & Hypertension: Vitamin Therapy™ for a Healthy Heart (Koehler, May 2022).

Learn more at BryantLusk.com

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