Are the Health Benefits of Green Tea Worth the Hype?

By Emily Laurence

Are the Health Benefits of Green Tea Worth the Hype? A Registered Dietitian Weighs In
Photo: Getty Images/Westend61

Long before it made its way to the West, green tea was sipped in East Asia, with its earliest roots traced to China in the twelfth century. Its many health benefits were recognized from the start and green tea has always played a strong role in Traditional Chinese Medicine. To this day, China is still the number one producer of green tea.

Because green tea is one of the most popular teas in the world, it’s also one of the most studied by scientific researchers. There are thousands of studies on the health benefits of green tea and how drinking it on a regular basis affects cardiovascular health, brain health, as well as the body as a whole. Here, registered dietitian Neva Cochran, RD, explains what exactly those benefits are. She also details exactly how much green tea you need to drink a day to experience the benefits as well as tips for buying it. Keep reading for everything you need to know.

What are the health benefits of green tea?

1. It’s good for your heart

If you’re looking for something to sip on throughout the day for heart-protective benefits, Cochran says green tea is a great option. “Green tea is high in flavanols, which is a type of antioxidant, and these flavanols have been linked to reducing LDL cholesterol, also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol,” Cochran says. This, she adds, means it can lower the risk of heart disease.

A scientific article published in the journal Nutrition Review says that observations in southeastern Asian countries show a connection between green tea consumption and a decreased number of cardiovascular health problems. It also says there has been a connection between regular green tea drinking and reduced body fat, which is also connected to cardiovascular health.

2. Green tea is good for your brain

Drinking green tea does more than just support a healthy heart; Cochran says it benefits the brain, too. This, she says, is credited to its caffeine content as well as catechins, which are a type of polyphenol and antioxidant. “Catechins help protect the body from free radicals. This benefits the whole body and of course the brain as well,” Cochran says.

An article published in the journal Phytomedicine that took into account 21 separate studies on green tea found that its consumption was linked to better attention and memory. The researchers say they believe this to be connected to the caffeine and l-theanine (an amino acid associated with calm and focus) in the tea. Between the catechins, caffeine, and l-theanine, clearly there are several components in green tea that make it such a brain health-boosting beverage.

3. Drinking green tea could improve your mood

The same paper published in Phytomedicine found that green tea was linked to feeling less anxious. “This is likely because of the l-theanine in green tea,” Cochran says. “Many scientific studies have found a connection between l-theanine and mood as well as with cognitive function,” she says. The combination of l-theanine and caffeine leads to a feeling of cognitive alertness without the jitters that some can experience with coffee.

4. It can help you feel more alert

Another benefit of the caffeine in green tea: it can help you feel more alert. While some teas, like chamomile or lavender, are more associated with feelings of relaxation or sleepiness, the caffeine content in green tea makes it more of a good one to sip throughout the day, not in the evening. Another benefit: it doesn’t have the crash that drinking coffee causes many to experience.

5. Green tea could protect against certain cancers

Cochran says green tea’s antioxidant content also means that sipping it on a regular basis could protect against certain cancers, but she also adds a major caveat to this benefit. “Green tea is by no means a silver bullet and The National Cancer Institute does not recommend for or against the use of tea to reduce the risk of any type of cancer.” Disclaimer in place, there are some components in green tea that may lessen the risk. A paper published in the journal Cancer and Metastasis Reviews says that green tea’s EGCGs (a type of beneficial catechin) have been shown to inhibit tumor growth.

While this finding is noteworthy, Cochran says some of the other claims of green tea and cancer prevention may be overblown. “[For example], a  meta-analysis with eight studies on green tea and breast cancer found reduced risk in three studies but no reduction in five studies,” she says. “There is also a lack of evidence for green tea and lower risk of prostate cancer and no significant association between endometrial cancer risk and green tea consumption.”

 6. It could help lower blood sugar levels

“In a meta-analysis of 22 studies with 1,584 subjects, green tea catechins significantly lowered fasting blood sugar levels,” Cochran says, adding that it may also help prevent type 2 diabetes. “[This is because] green tea can inhibit digestive enzymes that help break down sugars in the gut to slow down the absorption of sugars so blood sugar levels rise more slowly,” she says.

7. Drinking green tea is good for your bones

One benefit of drinking green tea that Cochran says is often overlooked is that it’s good for your bones. “Tea polyphenols enhance bone formation and inhibit bone breakdown resulting in greater bone strength,” she says. As one scientific paper published in Nutrition Review says, “epidemiological evidence has shown an association between tea consumption and the prevention of age-related bone loss in elderly women and men. Ingestion of green tea and green tea bioactive compounds may be beneficial in mitigating bone loss of this population and decreasing their risk of osteoporotic fractures.” In non-science speak that means milk isn’t the only bone-benefitting beverage.

8. It’s hydrating

Cochran says that because green tea has caffeine, many don’t think it’s truly a hydrating drink, but that’s not the case. “Especially for people who don’t like the taste of plain water, green tea can be extremely helpful in helping someone meet their hydration goals,” she says.

Additional nutrient content, dosage, and side effects

Clearly drinking green tea comes with many benefits. But in terms of hitting your nutrient goals for macronutrients like protein, fiber, and healthy fats, you’ll have to get them elsewhere. There are none of these nutrients in green tea. So while green tea is connected to many health benefits, it shouldn’t be mistaken as something to be consumed in the place of nutrient-rich foods.

In terms of how much green tea you have to drink to actually experience the benefits highlighted above, Cochran says the majority of scientific studies of green tea range between four to six cups a day. In terms of side effects, drinking too much could cause a headache, primarily because of the tea’s caffeine content. But other than that, it’s a low-risk beverage in terms of unwanted side effects.

Source: 8 Health Benefits of Green Tea To Know | Well+Good (wellandgood.com)

Amazing Weight Loss Foods to Improve Your Sex Life

By Eat This, Not That! Editors 

There’s nothing sexier than feeling healthy and being at a happy weight, except, well, sex itself. Hormones and heart health (yes, really) are the two primary players in desire, sexual performance, satisfaction, and fertility. Sure, you could pop a pill to boost your testosterone or rev your libido, but these types of drugs can have some pretty scary side effects, ranging from drowsiness, nausea, and dizziness to heart disease and even death—so not worth the risk.

The good news is that you can boost your testosterone, improve blood flow to your nether regions, or get in the mood naturally, simply by altering your diet with these weight-loss-promoting foods. So grab a pen, jot down a grocery list of the testosterone- and circulation-boosting foods below, and get ready to have the best sex of your life

Slide 2 of 16: An apple a day may help keep the doctor away, but a recent Italian study suggests it can do much more than that! Researchers divided more than 700 female subjects into two groups: those that ate apples daily and those that didn't. They found that those who regularly consumed the fruit—which is rich in the sex-boosting phytoestrogens, polyphenols, and antioxidants—had more enjoyable and pleasurable sex than those who didn't.Apples can do more than just improve your sex life, they can also help you look better in your lingerie! So much so, in fact, that they made our list of the Best Fruits for a Better Body.RELATED: Sign up for our newsletter to get daily recipes and food news in your inbox!

1. Apples

An apple a day may help keep the doctor away, but a recent Italian study suggests it can do much more than that! Researchers divided more than 700 female subjects into two groups: those that ate apples daily and those that didn’t. They found that those who regularly consumed the fruit—which is rich in the sex-boosting phytoestrogens, polyphenols, and antioxidants—had more enjoyable and pleasurable sex than those who didn’t.

Apples can do more than just improve your sex life, they can also help you look better in your lingerie! So much so, in fact, that they made our list of the Best Fruits for a Better Body.

2. Brazil nuts

Bikinis, models, nuts … Is there anything Brazilian that’s not sexy? Selenium is a trace mineral found in Brazil nuts that plays an important role in hormone health. You only need a tiny bit for healthy sperm, but a tiny deficiency can be catastrophic for reproductive health. In one study, men who had lower testosterone and were infertile also had significantly lower selenium levels than the fertile group. Supplementing with the mineral improved chances of successful conception by 56%!

Slide 4 of 16: Ginger—one of our go-to spices for fat loss—can improve your sex life with its antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. The spice has been shown to boost levels of testosterone and sperm viability in men.

3. Ginger

Ginger—one of our go-to spices for fat loss—can improve your sex life with its antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. The spice has been shown to boost levels of testosterone and sperm viability in men.

4. Dark chocolate

A study of Italian women and their chocolate-eating habits found that women who regularly nibbled on cocoa wanted and enjoyed sex more than women who barely touched the stuff. This may be because chocolate increases both serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, making us happy and lowering our stress level—both “mood” boosters if you know what we mean. Another theory from the study, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, is that cocoa increases blood flow through the arteries and relaxes blood vessels—sending blood to all the right regions. Whatever the reason, chocolate is never a bad thing, just be sure you’re noshing on one of our go-to Fat-Burning Chocolates.

Slide 6 of 16: Rev up your sex life with a refreshing pomegranate juice spritzer. Studies have found that pomegranate juices, like POM Wonderful and PomeGreat, have positive effects on erectile dysfunction and testosterone. Pomegranates are also loaded with antioxidants that support blood flow, which can help boost sensitivity and pleasure. Just be sure to water your juice down a bit: One cup of the stuff has 31 grams of sugar, which won't do your scantily clad bod any favors.

5. Pomegranate juice

Rev up your sex life with a refreshing pomegranate juice spritzer. Studies have found that pomegranate juices, like POM Wonderful and PomeGreat, have positive effects on erectile dysfunction and testosterone. Pomegranates are also loaded with antioxidants that support blood flow, which can help boost sensitivity and pleasure. Just be sure to water your juice down a bit: One cup of the stuff has 31 grams of sugar, which won’t do your scantily clad bod any favors.

6. Oysters

Oysters are full of zinc, and women with higher levels of zinc in their system have been shown to have a higher sex drive than those with lower levels. And guys can reap the benefits, too. One study showed that six-months of zinc supplementation among slightly zinc-deficient elderly men doubled serum levels of testosterone. Research has also shown deficiencies in zinc to be a risk factor for infertility caused by low testosterone levels. Get your shuck on at happy hour (and stick to one of these low-calorie cocktails to maintain your flat belly). Just a half dozen oysters on the half shell will provide you with 33 milligrams of zinc, nearly three times the 12-milligram RDA for adult men.

7. Watermelon

Watermelon has even more lycopene than tomatoes, and lycopene rivals Viagra in its ability to relax blood vessels and improve circulation to certain, ahem, areas of the body.

8. Coffee

It turns out all those Starbucks daters may be onto something—coffee may just be the best libido booster around. It contains a stimulant that has been shown (in animal studies) to put females in the mood. Grab a cappuccino and brace yourself for a long, lucky night.

9. Spinach

Eating spinach, a green rich in appetite-suppressing compounds, can not only give you a lingerie-ready figure but also put you in the mood by increasing blood flow below the belt. “Spinach is rich in magnesium, a mineral that decreases inflammation in blood vessels, increasing blood flow,” registered dietitian Cassie Bjork, RD, LD tells us. Although that may not sound sexy, you’re sure to enjoy the effects. “Increased blood flow drives blood to the extremities, which, like Viagra, can increase arousal and make sex more pleasurable,” says psychotherapist and sex expert Tammy Nelson, Ph.D. “Women will find it is easier to have an orgasm, and men will find that erections come more naturally. Having good sex is the best aphrodisiac.”

10. Red wine

Looking for a tasty way to boost your libido? Pour yourself a glass or two of red wine—but be sure to cut yourself off there. Women who drank one to two glasses of the stuff had a higher sexual desire and sexual function than those who didn’t down any vino, a Journal of Sexual Medicine study found. Unfortunately for you wine lovers out there, there was no additional benefit to drinking more than two glasses—which is the most health experts suggest we drink on a daily basis anyway. What makes the elixir so beneficial? It contains flavonoids that increase blood flow to key areas of the body (you know the ones).

11. Grass-fed beef

If your crazy-busy schedule is to blame for your lack of libido, you’re not alone. “One of the primary reasons couples stop having sex is because they’re tired, fatigued, and stressed. But sometimes, there’s a biological component at play,” says Nelson. One of the causes of fatigue in women is iron deficiency. The condition can zap energy, which may result in a low sex drive, explains Nelson. Bjork concurs, adding, “Iron deficiency is common and can result in feelings of exhaustion, weakness, and irritability, which doesn’t make anyone feel like getting intimate.” Bjork says remedying the situation requires a two-part approach: “If you think your diet lacks iron, focus on eating more spinach, grass-fed red meat and liver, all foods rich in the nutrient. Then, ensure sure your body is able to utilize the iron,” she says. “Consuming probiotic-rich yogurt, fatty fish, and an L-glutamine supplement can improve gut health and help your body to absorb iron more efficiently,” says Bjork.

12. Eggs

Eggs often come up in reproductive health discussions. This time we’re talking about dietary eggs, as in omelets, and the role they play in boosting testosterone. That comes primarily from the yolks, which are rich in dietary cholesterol, plus mono- and saturated fats—nutrients once demonized by health experts that have since proven to positively influence waistlines and hormone health. In fact, studies on vegetarian and low-fat diets both show they reduce testosterone levels by around 12%. Higher-fat diets—in which fat is at least 40% of calorie intake, with greater consumption of saturated fat—show increased testosterone levels. Why? It’s not rocket science. Cholesterol makes up the building blocks from which testosterone is formed; without it, the hormone can’t synthesize. Organic eggs are one of the best dietary sources. In addition to essential fatty acids, a whole egg is rich in aspartic acid, an amino acid that triggers the production of testosterone

13. Potatoes

Whether they’re the white or the sweet variety, potatoes are a great source of potassium. This nutrient counteracts salt’s bloating effects and boosts circulation, which can help you look better in bed and also boost your bedroom pleasure. It’s a win-win!

Slide 15 of 16: It's no secret that oily coldwater fish like wild salmon, sardines, and tuna are overflowing with omega-3 fatty acids, but here's something you may not know: The nutrient not only benefits your heart but also raises dopamine levels in the brain. This spike in dopamine improves circulation and blood flow, triggering arousal, Bjork and Nelson explain. There's more: "Dopamine will make you feel more relaxed and connected to your partner, which makes sex more fun," says Nelson.

14. Fatty fish

It’s no secret that oily coldwater fish like wild salmon, sardines, and tuna are overflowing with omega-3 fatty acids, but here’s something you may not know: The nutrient not only benefits your heart but also raises dopamine levels in the brain. This spike in dopamine improves circulation and blood flow, triggering arousal, Bjork and Nelson explain. There’s more: “Dopamine will make you feel more relaxed and connected to your partner, which makes sex more fun,” says Nelson.

15. Green Tea

Green tea is rich in compounds called catechins, which have been shown to blast away belly fat and speed the liver’s capacity for turning fat into energy. But that’s not all: Catechins also boost desire by promoting blood flow to your nether regions. “Catechins kill off free radicals that damage and inflame blood vessels, increasing their ability to transport blood,” says Bjork. “Catechins also cause blood vessel cells to release nitric oxide, which increases the size of the blood vessels, leading to improved blood flow,” she says. Blood flow to the genitals = feeling of sexual excitement, so sipping the stuff will, well, make you want to get it on. Bjork suggests drinking four cups a day to feel the full effects. 

Source: Amazing Weight Loss Foods to Improve Your Sex Life (msn.com)

These are the 4 most common COVID-19 symptoms

Article by Herb Scribner

a group of people in a tent: In this Dec. 18, 2020, file photo, medical tents for vaccinations are set outside the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. While shipments of the vaccine are rolling out to many health care workers and nursing homes across the country, it could be months before it’s available for the general public.
© Damian Dovarganes, Associated Press

New research published in BMJ Open Ophthalmology has identified the four most often reported COVID-19 symptoms.

The method:

Researchers issued an online questionnaire from people who had a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis. The researchers then compared symptoms patients experience pre-COVID-19 and once they had COVID-19. The research was mostly centered around ocular issues.

What are the common symptoms?

The study discovered four of the most common symptoms for COVID-19 patients, which included:

  • Fatigue — 90%.
  • Fever — 76%.
  • Loss of smell/taste — 70%.
  • Dry cough — 66%.

One more note …

The study also identified the high-prevalence of “sore eyes,” which was identified as one of the most common ocular issues among patients.

  • “While it is important that ocular symptoms are included in the list of possible COVID-19 symptoms, we argue that sore eyes should replace ‘conjunctivitis’ as it is important to differentiate from symptoms of other types of infections, such as bacterial infections, which manifest as mucous discharge or gritty eyes,” the authors wrote, according to the American Journal of Managed Care.

Source: These are the 4 most common COVID-19 symptoms (msn.com)

Getting Headaches at Night? Here’s What Your Body’s Trying to Tell You

Woman in bed with a headache looking at smartphone

Image Credit: AlessandroPhoto/iStock/GettyImages

It’s been ​a day​, and now you’ve got a headache, which is really going to cut into your plans to have a relaxing night on the couch with snacks and made-for-TV holiday movies. Or — even worse — you might be woken up in the middle of the night with an aching noggin and have to decide if you get out of bed to take meds or try to sleep it off.

Uncovering the source of the head pain will help you take action (or get help), so you can reduce the risk that you’ll be laid up with a pounder in the future.

1. You’re Stressed

This is zero percent surprising for anyone who’s ever felt as if they barely survived the constant onslaught of the day (multiple Zoom calls in a row, a boss who’s not happy about that thing, kids on e-learning while you try to work), but stress causes headaches.

These are often tension headaches, and once upon a time they were even called stress headaches, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Stress management or relaxation training is a common treatment to ease your mind and thereby reduce your risk of this type of headache. Deep breathing (download the app Breathwrk if you have iOS), listening to calming music or trying guided imagery (close your eyes and picture a place that’s peaceful to you, like a beach or laying in the sun in a park on a warm day), are a few tools to have in your back pocket as you wind down at night and prepare for bed.

2. You’re Spending Too Much Time in Front of Your Computer

Jumping off of the endless Zoom call bandwagon, you might find yourself hanging out in front of your computer more when WFH compared to last winter when you were still in the office. In fact, some estimations say that workers are logging longer hours — about 30 minutes more in the U.S.

So here’s the deal: If you’re staring at a computer screen, you’re at risk of developing “computer vision syndrome,” which includes symptoms like eyestrain, neck and shoulder pain and headaches, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA).

If you wear glasses, make sure you have the right prescription for viewing a computer screen, correct your posture when doing work and practice the 20-20-20 rule: For every 20 minutes on your computer, look away for 20 seconds at something 20 feet away.

3. You Have Hypnic Headaches

Also called “alarm-clock headaches,” these pains — which are more common in people over age 50 — only happen at night and occur at the same time at night, explains Raj Dasgupta, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine at Keck School of Medicine of USC in Los Angeles.

They’re so regular, in fact, that they wake you up like your own special alarm clock.

It’s important to note that these headaches are rare, Dr. Dasgupta says. See your doctor, who will rule out other causes of nighttime headaches. Interestingly, consuming caffeine at bedtime is a common treatment, according to the American Migraine Foundation.

4. You’re Grinding Your Teeth

Headache is a common symptom of teeth grinding. The coronavirus pandemic has caused enough psychological stress that more people are suffering from teeth grinding and jaw pain, according to a 2020 study in the ​Journal of Clinical Medicine​.

If you grind your teeth (you may not be truly aware of it, but your dentist might ask you at your next appointment if your teeth show signs), then you may need a mouth guard to protect your teeth from damage.

Developing a stress-management plan — as best as you’re able in these trying times — can help you release angst rather than constantly clenching.

5. You Have a Headache Disorder

Migraine, tension and cluster headaches are the three big categories of headaches.

“These can happen at any time, including nighttime, and are triggered by various factors, like poor sleep or too much sleep, food, medications and stress,” Dr. Dasgupta says.

You don’t have to live in pain. If headaches are striking often, jot down how they feel — a good description can help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

Migraine headaches are characterized by throbbing sensations, are often severe and the onset may come with an aura (like seeing flashing lights), Dr. Dasgupta says. Tension headaches are like a band around your head. Finally, cluster headaches are burning and piercing, aptly called “ice pick” headaches.

6. It’s a True Emergency

If you can describe your headache as “the worst headache of my life,” that’s a buzzword that perks up an emergency physician’s ears, Dr. Dasgupta says. One potential cause is a ruptured brain aneurysm that can lead to a brain bleed, which is life-threatening.

Get help immediately and tell emergency personnel that, yes, this is “the worst headache of my life.”

7. You Have Anxiety or Depression

By the evening, everything from the day has come to a head. While you can experience symptoms of anxiety or depression at any time of the day, for some people, they may be especially acute once the day is over.

Headaches themselves can indicate that someone is suffering from generalized anxiety disorder, per the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. What’s more, people who have more severe symptoms of mood disorders are also more likely to have migraines, March 2018 research in the journal ​Headache​ shows.

There are medications that can treat both headaches and anxiety or depression. Talk to your doctor.

Source: Why You Get Headaches at Night and How to Stop Them | Livestrong.com