Full disclosure: I am not a morning person. At all. I wish I were and I have this fantasy that one day (one day!) I will, indeed, become someone who bounds out of bed at 6 in morning, ready to take on the world, or at least a couple-mile jog. Until that day arrives, I am content to ease into the morning at a more civilized hour. As an O-type Explorer, I can’t drink coffee—what the rest of the world depends on to kickstart a new day. Typical of O’s, my liver doesn’t metabolize the caffeine and I end up jittery and grumpy after one cup. Green tea has become my answer.
Green tea, anyway, has mountains of health benefits as compared to coffee. The reason for this is that it’s chock full of antioxidants called catechins. Studies have shown that catechins are more powerful than vitamins C and E in preventing the oxidative damage that free radicals (toxic oxygen molecules that come from a host of sources from high fat diet to chemical and pesticide-laden foods to simple sugar and, yes, coffee) wreak on our bodies. What’s it good for? First off, research has shown it helps prevent a number of cancers: skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal, and bladder. Green tea can help block the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol and improve artery function. A Chinese study published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed a 46%-65% reduction in hypertension risk in regular consumers of green tea, compared to non-consumers of tea. Dieters commonly take green tea pills or drink green tea and the weight loss benefits were, indeed, confirmed by a study in theInternational Journal of Obesityin 2009. What else? It decreases periodontal disease, prevents strokes and increases brain function. Why would you not be drinking this stuff?
As a bit of a tea connoisseur (my cupboards are overflowing with every type of tea imaginable), I’ve tried green teas from everywhere from Whole Foods to venerable tea-maker Kusmi to a batch I spirited back from Malaysia. My absolute consensus on the best green tea out there? Mr. Itaru’s green tea, which we import at the Store from a special distributor in Japan. Dr. D’Adamo handpicked this tea when deciding on the best type to provide his patients and I have to say that, after conducting my own informal survey of green teas over the last couple years, nothing compares. It’s of the genmaicha variety, which means it has toasted brown rice added to it, giving it a yummy toasted flavor and smell. I actually look forward to getting out of bed in the morning to drink my daily dose.
Green tea-drinking tips: steep your tea for 5 minutes and sip a minimum of 3 cups a day. You won’t get the antioxidant benefits from decaf varieties but if you’re caffeine-sensitive, you might want to experiment with different varieties to find one that is less stimulating.