Tea leaves are rich in beneficial plant compounds called catechins. Human and animal data indicate green tea extract, due in part to its catechin content, may offer health benefits. Keep in mind that supplements are no substitute for leading a healthy lifestyle. Talk to your doctor before taking green tea extract, especially if you plan to use it as a complementary treatment for a health condition.
Increases Fat-Burning Capacity
Green tea extract -- or GTE -- boosts fat burning during moderate-intensity exercise, according to a study published in the March 2008 edition of the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition." The study involved healthy adult men who supplemented green tea extract 24 hours before the experiment. Researchers found that GTE increased the rate of fat burning during exercise by 17 percent. The total calories burned from fat was also significantly higher after GTE supplementation, according to the study.
Lowers Blood Pressure
The heart benefits of drinking green tea and red wine have been attributed to catechins, and it appears taking green tea extract may offer similar benefits. In obese adults with high blood pressure, GTE has a favorable effect on blood pressure, according to the authors of a study published in June 2012 in the journal "Nutrition Research." The subjects took GTE for three months in a double-blind experiment. Compared to the control group, GTE supplementation significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, according to the authors.
Beneficial Effects on Cholesterol and Insulin
The authors of the "Nutrition Research" study also observed other health benefits of taking GTE. At the start of the study, the participants had insulin resistance, which increases the risk of diabetes. Supplementing GTE lowered fasting glucose and improved insulin sensitivity. GTE also significantly lowered total cholesterol, triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein -- a bad form of cholesterol -- and increased a good type of cholesterol called high-density lipoprotein.
Safety of Green Tea Extract
The supplement standards organization U.S. Pharmacopeia evaluated the safety of green tea extracts in a clinical review that it published in the June 2008 issue of the journal "Drug Safety." After analyzing safety data, the USP concluded that GTE is safe when taken appropriately.
Avoid taking GTE is you have liver disease. There are case reports of liver damage linked to GTE. Theoretically, GTE may cause mild gastrointestinal upset. Taking GTE on an empty stomach is more likely to cause adverse effects, according to the USP.
To avoid side effects, ask your doctor to help you pick a GTE supplement and recommend a safe and effective dose.
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Green Tea Extract Ingestion, Fat Oxidation, and Glucose Tolerance in Healthy Humans
- Nutrition Research: Green Tea Extract Reduces Blood Pressure, Inflammatory Biomarkers, and Oxidative Stress and Improves Parameters Associated With Insulin Resistance in Obese, Hypertensive Patients
- Drug Safety: Safety of Green Tea Extracts: A Systematic Review by the US Pharmacopeia
- University of California, Davis: Some Facts About Catechins
- Photo Credit bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images
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