Green tea, a beverage that comes with its own steamy health-halo! Of late, many people have been trading in their daily cup of coffee or tea and making green tea their beverage of choice. One of the main reasons for this is that green tea is considered to be a healthier option. For starters, a cup of green tea contains zero calories from added milk and sugar, and it is said to have many beneficial effects on the body. So what exactly are these health-benefits, does green tea really help you lose weight, and should you be chugging down multiple cups a day? To debunk the myths from the facts, we spoke to celebrity macrobiotic nutritionist and chef Shonali Sabherwal, who 'spills the tea' on everything you want to know about this much-loved brew.
Cosmo India: Why exactly is in a cup of green tea?
Shonali Sabherwal: Green tea is known to be rich in many compounds, specifically catechins (also found in berries). A potent antioxidant, this helps to prevent cell damage and decrease body fat, along with having anti-carcinogenic effects, decreasing blood cholesterol and controlling blood pressure. Despite what many people believe it does contain caffeine (approximately 40%) which keeps you alert and act as a diuretic. It contains theanine an amino acid (also found in mushrooms) which helps with neurons and has a relaxing effect.
C: That sounds like a pretty fabulous! What is the ideal way to consume this magical brew?
SS: The best way to have green tea is in-between meals. Give at least a 2-hour gap before or after a meal, as the tannins in green tea prevent mineral absorption.
C: Could you shed some light on its health benefits?
SS: As I have explained above, there are many benefits of drinking green tea. It contains vitamin C, B2, beta carotene, vitamin E and minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus and manganese. Plus, the chlorophyll it contains mimics blood condition and promotes the production of haemoglobin. It also has some anti-ageing benefits. The catechins it contains slow down ageing and prevent free-radical damage. Certain polyphenols it contains inhibit bad enzymes from breaking down skin's collagen. Green tea also boosts brain function, as caffeine with amino acid theanine can do this together.
C: Does it really help you lose weight?
SS: Yes it does, as it boosts metabolism! However, you need to stick to a good diet plan as well.
C: Any myths associated with green tea you would like to clarify?
SS: One myth is that you can have as many cups of green tea as you like in the day. This is not true, as it has caffeine and this could disrupt your body clock, spike insulin, affect hormones etc. Limit your consumption to 2 cups a day, preferably before 5 pm.
C: Is green tea good for anything else?
SS: Apart from drinking it, green tea can also be used as a cleaner around the house, thanks to its astringent nature. It also makes a great hair rinse, as it has antioxidants that protect the hair from the sun's UV rays. Chilled green tea bags also make a great DIY eye-pack to reduce puffiness around the eyes.
Shonali Sabherwal is a Macrobiotic Nutritionist/Chef. Her Instagram handle is soulfoodshonali