Green tea, along with white, black, and oolong teas, are derived from the plant Camellia sinensis. The Chinese first discovered green tea 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. Green tea includes flavonoids, which are plant-derived compounds that feature antioxidants. The antioxidants in green tea called catechins are stronger than Vitamins C and E; 30% of the green tea leaves feature these polyphenols. Of the four teas produced by this plant, green tea includes the most catechins, meaning it offers the most health benefits.
Green tea promises a range of health benefits that have been thoroughly researched for decades. Green tea is capable of treating a number of health conditions. A wealth of research exists that credits green tea with helping to prevent cancer. Clinical studies have indicated that green tea consumption may help reduce the risk of contracting the following cancers: bladder, breast, ovarian, colorectal, esophageal, lung, pancreatic, prostate, skin, and stomach. Green tea polyphenols, including the tea’s main polyphenol epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in studies. While not all of these studies have been conducted on humans—some animals have been studied, while other studies focused on test tubes—there is significant promising research that green tea can be an effective prevention measure against cancer.
The health benefits of green tea extend beyond cancer prevention, however. Individuals diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, can experience symptom relief thanks to green tea. Similarly, green tea may help prevent colon cancer.
Diabetics can benefit from green tea consumption, which can improve glucose tolerance. Research conducted on laboratory animals also indicated that green tea can increase insulin sensitivity, another benefit for diabetics. Green tea can also help to prevent atherosclerosis, more commonly known as hardening of the arteries. In part, green tea’s ability to combat coronary artery disease is due to its ability to lower cholesterol and raise HDL, or "good," cholesterol.
Finally, evidence suggests that green tea can prove beneficial in the fight against neurodegenerative diseases, which are often difficult to treat. Green tea’s antioxidants can help treat Parkinson’s disease, and laboratory studies indicate that EGCG in green tea can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. This same polyphenol in green tea can also protect against neurological damage associated with stroke.
Green tea is also a popular ingredient for beauty and skin care products due to its range of benefits. The antioxidants that help treat and prevent diseases and health conditions have similarly beneficial effects on the skin. These antioxidant effects come in the form of green tea extract in many beauty and skin care products.
Research has indicated that EGCG, the main polyphenol is green tea, can reactivate dying skin cells. This ability results in healthier, younger-looking skin. Energized skin cells result in improved skin condition, and green tea’s EGCG can provide this energy.
Research has also revealed that green tea can help protect the skin from the sun’s damaging rays. In this case, green tea can be taken in two forms. Drinking 24 ounces of green tea a day can offer sun protection. Alternatively, topical green tea cream can also protect skin cells from harmful UV radiation when used in conjunction with sunscreen.
Green tea in skin care products can also help in the fight against aging skin. The tea’s antioxidants possess anti-inflammatory properties that, in many cases, can slow down signs of aging. Research continues to identify specific ways green tea helps minimize the symptoms associated with aging skin.
Green tea extract can be found in a range of beauty and skin care products thanks to these remarkable benefits. Moisturizers for the face and body often feature green tea to rejuvenate skin. Many creams are specifically marketed as green tea creams, giving users the antioxidant benefits of green tea extract. The ingredient can also be found in soaps, anti-aging serums, sunscreens and body washes.
Like other botanicals, green tea extract is a gentle, natural ingredient that is not associated with significant side effects. Green tea is included on the Food and Drug Administration’s Generally Recognized As Safe list. Thus, this plant-derived ingredient can produce significant health benefits as well as benefits for the skin and body without irritation for the majority of users. Green tea extract, then, is an ideal ingredient in many beauty and personal care products.