Does Green Tea Improve Bone Density?
The color green has come to represent many products and services that are seen to be eco-friendly, healthy and natural. When we think of tea, green tea is known to give even more health benefits than ordinary black tea.
Green tea has been found to:
- Lower cholesterol
- Maintain healthy blood pressure
- Aid weight loss
- Fight heart disease
- Detox the body
- Support a healthy liver
Green tea also has anti-inflammatory properties. This has recently been tested to find out whether it can improve bone density and help fight osteoporosis. Initial findings are very positive.
How Green Tea Works
It has been known for some time that those who drink green tea generally have lower risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. The main benefits of drinking one to three cups of tea per day are the powerful polyphenols or antioxidants it contains. These catechins fight damaging free radicals and help prevent blood clots and clogged arteries by improving the flexibility of blood vessels. The caffeine in green tea helps to oxidate fats, aiding weight loss. Most importantly, green tea has been shown to lower inflammation in the body, a precursor to a number of health problems.
Trials of Green Tea Consumption and Bone Health
Dr Leslie Shen has spent 20 years studying why Asian women suffer less from osteoporosis than women from Western cultures, where traditionally dairy products are an important part of the diet and should offer more protection against bone weakening diseases.
Dr Shen conducted recent trials on 171 postmenopausal women who had weak bones but had not been diagnosed with osteoporosis. The six month long study took place at the Laura W. Bush Institute at the Texas Tech University and combined green tea with Tai Chi, a moderately intense aerobic exercise routine which includes mind and body philosophies. The participants were divided into four groups.
- Group 1 was given a placebo and practiced tai chi three times a week
- Group 2 was given a placebo and no tai chi
- Group 3 was given 500mg/day green tea polyphenols and practiced tai chi
- Group 4 was given green tea polyphenols and no tai chi.
The results showed that those who took the equivalent of four to six cups of green tea daily and practiced tai chi had enhanced bone health after three months and again after six months. A similar improvement in muscle strength was also found in that group. The trial also showed that those taking green tea and exercising using tai chi techniques had significantly lower oxidative stress, a precursor to inflammation. The results suggested that combining the anti-inflammatory properties of green tea with the tai chi may help reduce the underlying cause of osteoporosis and other inflammatory diseases as well.
Dr Shen and her team concluded from the study that modest green tea consumption has a favorable effect on those suffering signs of pre-osteoporosis.
Best Ways to Take Green Tea
The best way to drink green tea is to make it fresh in a pitcher and add lemon and a dash of natural sweetener to taste. This is far more effective than buying bottled green tea which is often highly processed with little antioxidant content. Fresh tea was also more effective than taking green tea supplements. For maximum health benefits, try to drink up to three cups per day and choose caffeinated green tea for most effective weight loss.