One of the benefits green tea is often celebrated for is weight loss. I’m a little hesitant to promote this claim, to be honest. It’s not that I don’t think it works as there have been several studies over the last few years that have shown green tea to be effective in inducing weight loss, I’m just not a big believer in magic pills.
And as an advocate for overall holistic health, the idea that someone can add a few pots of green tea to a poor diet and expect to magically be healthy is insane. Your weight is a symptom of your health, but doesn’t always indicate it exactly. A person with a wasting disease or parasites or even someone suffering from starvation is pretty darn lean, but I don’t think anyone would dream of calling them healthy.
As regular readers know, my approach to weight loss is always to recommend turning the entire diet around: eat whole unprocessed foods, avoid sensitivities and hidden chemical ingredients and let your weight sort itself out (which it will). Return the body to a state of health and the symptoms (including excess weight) disappear.
But you can’t deny the research. Studies have found that green tea consumption encourages the loss of visceral fat – fat around the abdomen which is associated with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, which is no surprise since green tea consumption has been associated with improved circulation and heart health.
Most of the studies on tea, for all its benefits including weight loss, have focused on a polyphenol compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Green tea is loaded with EGCG, a powerful antioxidant. Since the fermentation process used to make black tea converts EGCG into other compounds, researchers assumed black tea had less health benefits than green tea. While green tea contains between 30 and 40 per cent polyphenols, black tea only has between 3 and 10 per cent, leading researchers to believe green tea would have more weight loss benefits than black.
But a new study, published in the journal Nutrition, has found that black tea also helps reduce weight gain and cuts body fat levels. Lab animals fed black tea extracts in conjunction with a diet chosen to promote weight gain suppressed body weight gain and body fat levels.
“It has been reported that the primary polyphenols in black tea are theaflavins and thearubigins. However, it has not yet been clarified whether thearubigins also have a preventive effect on obesity. Our results are consistent with the possibility that black tea-derived polyphenols are responsible for the observed physiologic effects of the black tea extracts,” wrote researchers from the Functional Food Business Project at Kirin Holdings Company. At this point, however, it is still unknown whether black tea is as effective as green in promoting weight loss.
Note, however, that both green and black tea do contain caffeine, so they are best enjoyed in moderation. The difference is that green tea contains sedative components which counteract the caffeine giving an overall relaxed yet alert sensation. Some can even enjoy green tea right before bed.
The Healthy Foodie is Doug DiPasquale, Holistic Nutritionist and trained chef, living in Toronto. Doug specializes in private in-home holistic cooking lessons.