Introducing green tea....
Green tea, next to water, is the second most consumed drink in the world, but it is mostly down to the Asian countries that it gains this standing. In the UK it is the traditional ‘cuppa’ or ‘brew’ that we consume 165 million cups of per day.
Green tea is made from the same plant as traditional tea, that is the Camellia sinensis plant plant, but the leaves are treated differently, changing its flavour and colour.
Green tea vs. Black tea
When the tea leaves are freshly picked, they can be treated in two ways: the first is when the leaves are left to react to the oxygen in the air, through a process called oxidation, during which they turn brown and develop a slightly bitter flavour. These brown leaves are used to make your everyday black tea.
Gently heating the leaves beforehand prevents oxidation so that the leaves do not turn brown. These leaves are used to make green tea, which has a milder flavour and aroma.
This of course raises the question – is green tea better for the prostate gland than black tea? While the leaves are being heated in the production of green tea, the tea leaves release a range of catechins, anti-oxidants with particularly formidable sounding titles, such as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Thankfully, understanding the chemical structures has little impact on our enjoyment of green tea, but what it is worth knowing, is that these substances can bring you relief from your prostate symptoms.
These substances are not released when the leaves are left to oxidise, as in the production of black tea. Without these chemical structures, the drink has a significantly lessened effect on the prostate gland, making green tea the better choice of drink.
So what does green tea do to the prostate gland?
Studies focusing on the redoubtable EGCG, show how this anti-oxidant affects the prostate gland. Two functions in particular are worth highlighting:
- Research shows that three to five cups of tea a day can reduce inflammation of the prostate gland. After a period of study, levels of kappa B, a protein linked with inflammation, were lower in men who had been drinking green tea regularly, against those who had not. Reducing inflammation of the gland relieves pressure on the urethra, improving symptoms associated with BPH
- Green tea has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, helping to defend the bladder against infection. For men who suffer from BPH, fully emptying the bladder can be a struggle, and urine left in the bladder can grow stagnant and increase chances of bacterial infection. Studies suggest that regular consumption of green tea can significantly reduce chances of contracting urinary tract infections (UTIs).
How to get a green tea fix
Though most people would simply dunk green tea leaves in hot water and drink, not everybody enjoys the taste of green tea, and for those people, three cups of green tea a day can seem like an uphill struggle. To help you out we’ve come up with some ideas to sneak those precious leaves into your diet.
- Add a flavour you enjoy into your green tea, such as lemon or mint. Many tea companies now sell infused green teas to tickle your taste buds
- Add some green tea into a smoothie and enjoy as a refreshing summer’s drink
- Incorporate green tea leaves into a marinade. The other marinade ingredients will overpower the flavour of green tea, but you will still benefit from the anti-oxidants
- Green tea is becoming a popular ingredient in cakes and puddings, and while over-indulging on sugary desserts is perhaps not the best piece of advice, if you’re going to have a sweet treat, then one with green tea is a good option. A great and tasty dessert for prostate health is poaching fruits in green tea, particularly those high in vitamin C, such as apples.
Would you consider swapping your regular ‘cuppa’ for green tea to help your prostate health?
Meet our expert
Having trained as a doctor at the University of Newcastle-on-Tyne, Jen Tan, Medical Director of A.Vogel, has been involved in herbal medicine research over a number of years, coordinating projects both within the UK and internationally.