London - Many claim it offers a host of benefits, from cutting cholesterol to weight loss, so it’s not surprising green tea sales have risen by 19 percent in the past year. But critics say these benefits would be small. We look at the evidence...

 

What is green tea?

It is the same as black tea - essentially, dried leaves of the tea plant. But green tea leaves are dried using heat, so they retain their colour.

 

Does it really lower cholesterol?

Green tea is rich in compounds called polyphenols, which block the absorption of cholesterol in the gut. A review of studies on more than 1 000 people in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed green tea-drinkers had a drop in LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol - but only around two percent - while levels of HDL (‘good’) cholesterol were unchanged.

“Green tea is a better option than many other drinks if you have high cholesterol,” says Dr Sarah Schenker of the British Dietetic Association. “But it won’t solve the problem on its own.”

 

Can it ward off cancer?

Lower rates of many cancers in Asia, where they drink large quantities of green tea, led scientists to suspect it might be protective. But the results of studies are mixed.

 

Will it help you doze off?

Green tea is rich in L-theanine, an amino acid that helps relaxation. But this may be cancelled out by caffeine - it has as much as ordinary tea.

 

Does it help you slim?

Some research suggests the antioxidants in green tea speed up the metabolic rate. “Most studies have looked at the effect on animals and in doses equivalent to what a person would get from drinking at least seven cups a day,” says Dr Sarah Schenker. “The evidence is minimal.” - Daily Mail