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Green tea and black tea come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. They’re both picked at peak freshness and allowed to wither, to reduce the amount of water they contain. That’s where the process changes for green tea. While black tea withers completely, then dried naturally during fermentation, green tea only withers slightly, then they’re pan or oven dried or steamed to prevent oxidation that causes tea to darken. The darker the leaves, as in black tea, the darker the tea.
Both types of tea contain polyphenols called flavonoids that offer protection for the heart. An animal study showed that it could lower the amount of plaque formation by as little as 26% for a lower amount of tea and up to 68% for a higher amount. Both black and green tea aided in lowering triglycerides and LDL and both lowered blood pressure. Drinking 1-3 cups a day can reduce the risk of heart disease. However, the reduction of heart disease was higher for those who drank green tea.
Both types of tea contain caffeine, just like coffee. You can drink either tea or coffee to get the pick-me-up, since caffeine is a stimulant that also enhances your mood. The difference between tea and coffee is that tea contains L-theanine. L-theanine crosses the blood-brain barrier to change the effects of the caffeine and relax you, but still leave you alert. It does that by causing the release of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric—GABA. It also allows the release of serotonin and dopamine that make you feel good. While both green and black tea contain L-theanine, green tea has more.
One antioxidant that black tea doesn’t have is EGCG, but black tea has theaflavins. So, which one is better for you? The EGCG is responsible for many of the benefits offered by green tea. EGCG is thought to have cancer inhibiting properties, may reduce the effects of amyloid plaques that occur in Alzheimer’s patients, provide liver protection, are anti-microbial, aid in preventing fatigue, yet are also calming. The theaflavins in black tea protect the heart and blood vessels, while reducing the risk of plaque formation, by lowering inflammation and boosting nitric oxide. Theaflavins may aid in breaking down fat, to help control weight and fight obesity.
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