Find out if the green stuff's weight-loss power extends to flavored ice cream, iced tea, and extract
I'll admit it: I had a mini celebration when I learned green tea has the incredible power to shift your fat-fighting metabolism into high gear. And, yes, I kicked my heels in the air when I found research suggesting that exercisers who drink green tea lose twice as much weight as those who don't.
Fast forward to me pushing a shopping-cart-full of green tea products around my local grocery store. I was buying green tea everything. Ice cream, noodles, etc. Who was I fooling? The weight-loss benefits are in the epigallocatechin gallate (a.k.a. EGCG, a health-boosting antioxidant) found in green tea. Not the green tea flavor....
That got me thinking: To corral the fat-fighting power of this superfood, what kinds of green tea should I be drinking? Is green tea extract effective? Does the temperature affect its potency? Oh, so many questions. Luckily, registered dietitian and Women's Health's nutrition expert Keri Glassman had all the answers.
Your Green Tea Questions, Answered
Do you get the same green tea benefits with flavored green teas?"The benefits of green tea shouldn't be lessened by the addition of flavors," says Glassman. We're talking pomegranate green tea, cranberry green tea, etc. However, if the flavoring includes sugar, it may contain more calories than unflavored teas, says Glassman. Her recommendation: Avoid green teas with any added sugar or artificial sweeteners. My recommendation: Numi's Jasmine Green Tea.
Does the brand of green tea matter? Yes. "There can be a difference in the quality of tea leaves and the number of additional, unnecessary ingredients," Glassman says. As mentioned above, you just want to make sure not to mess up your green tea's powers by adding sugar. When looking at the label, keep in mind that, while green tea has loads of health benefits, "it is not a significant source of vitamins," Glassman says. To reap the maximum benefits, look for brands that use all natural ingredients and have no artificial preservatives, such as Traditional Medicinals or Yogi.
What if the green tea is iced? Sure, it's the same green tea, only colder, but keep in mind that iced teas can be diluted with water. The weight-loss benefits are maximized when it's served hot. Brew a better cup using this tip from the pros at Bigelow: Don't let the water come to a full boil. Instead, pour the water over the tea bag right before it boils (the point where tiny bubbles begin to form). Then, let the tea steep for about 2-4 minutes.
Can green tea go bad? It won't spoil, but like with most foods, "the fresher the better," Glassman says. "If using loose tea or tea bags, make sure to [drink up] within six months." Otherwise, the tea will lose some of its antioxidant powers.
If I'm not in a "tea mood," will a green tea extract do the trick?Yes. "Adding green tea extract to water is a great way to get the benefits of green tea while on-the-go," Glassman says. "Depending on the concentration of the formula, 1 ml of green tea extract can allow you to reap the benefits of drinking roughly 8 to 10 cups worth of antioxidant-rich green tea."