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Green Tea: Miracle, Fraud or Something In Between?
Belief in green tea as a miracle weight loss drink is widespread. An Internet search for “green tea for weight loss” turns up millions of results, Amazon.com carries over 75 books on the subject, and celebrities such as Oprah have endorsed green tea diets. These beliefs persist because they're based on a kernel of truth. Green tea isn't a weight loss miracle, but it can help.
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Experts Weigh In
Some experts contend that green tea may boost metabolism and burn fat. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, there is some evidence that catechins, compounds naturally present in green tea, help burn fat. The medical journal Chinese Medicine reports that mice fed green tea showed an increase in metabolism of 4.6 percent, with similar effects in overweight men.
However, Chinese Medicine stated that sample sizes used in human studies were too small and too specific to a particular group to draw any conclusions, while the National Institute of Health's Medline Plus cautions that better research is needed before green tea, especially green tea supplements, can be recommended for weight loss.
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Low In Calories
Drinking green tea for weight loss is a highly effective substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages full of empty calories. One sugar-sweetened soda contains approximately 150 calories, according to TeensHealth, while the small size of popular coffee chain latte also contains 150 calories. Compare that to a cup of green tea that provides the same energizing caffeine, but has only two calories.
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If you suffer from allergies, a day with a high pollen count can be an all-too-convenient excuse to avoid going for a run. Green tea may be able to help. It contains a compound which may help block the histamine response behind allergy symptoms, according to Hirofumi Tachibana, PhD., associate professor of chemistry at Kyushu University in Japan.
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Nothing derails a diet quite like a cold. When you are flat on your back nursing a headache, runny nose or sore throat, you may not be able to exercise, and you almost certainly lack the inclination to prepare a healthy meal. Green tea can help you get back on your feet sooner. It contains theophylline, which may help break up congestion, and quercetin, which helps prevent viruses from multiplying, according to the Doctor's Book of Food Remedies, and may even help you avoid getting sick altogether.
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Even if you are desperate to lose weight, be wary of green tea supplements that promise you can shed pounds without changing your eating habits. That promise is on the Federal Communications Commission Red Flag list for bogus diet products. Also be aware that the University of Maryland states that “People with heart problems, kidney disorders, stomach ulcers, and psychological disorders (particularly anxiety) should not take green tea. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also avoid green tea.”