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Green tea time brings health benefits

Today's consumers seem to be always looking for foods that have lots of health benefits. Green tea is one of those foods that have been recently credited for everything from helping you lose weight to preventing cancer. This week on WRVO's weekly health and wellness show "Take Care," hosts Linda Lowen and Lorraine Rapp speak with one of the country's top dieticians, Ashley Koff, about why drinking green tea is a healthy choice.

Lorraine Rapp: What is it about green tea that makes it so healthy?

Ashley Koff: Well, I think that we all want to not just live longer, but also live better for longer. And when we look to places around the world where there is that true longevity, we turn to countries that have for a long period of time consumed great amounts of green tea. And so I think that struck a lot of interest. We also, a lot of us, are pursuing weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight, and green tea has metabolic benefits which have been shown to – it’s called thermogenesis – in terms of heating up the body, if you will, but in terms of fat burning and helping us with weight loss. It also has the ability to help give us a little bit of satiety. So it’s not going to, if you’re staring at a juicy burger, it’s probably not going to turn you off of being quote, unquote, hungry, but it can, at least throughout your day, turn you away from having as much hunger as you might throughout the day. So there are great benefits to it. Antioxidants is a term that we hear very often. Antioxidants essentially reduces risk of things like cancer and other diseases. So green tea really is that – I always hate to use the word superfood – but it really is a super powerhouse of nutrition. Unfortunately, when anything is a super powerhouse of nutrition, a lot of benefits get ascribed to it as a category. Now I’m going to tell you that not all green tea is created equal, and as such, if you want the benefits of green tea, I really think it’s important for you to look for organic, whole green tea.

Lorraine Rapp: How much green tea should we be consuming every day to reap the benefits?

Ashley Koff: You know this is a really interesting question, because it’s not just about reaping the benefits, it’s also about how green tea interacts with one’s own physiology. Green tea is a source of caffeine. Now caffeine in tea is a little bit different, or actually significantly different, than say, caffeine in coffee, or versus maybe an energy drink or some of these others, in that it gives us a little bit more of a rolling hit. It unleashes its caffeine out over a bit of time. So one of the things we can be conscious of is that it might not give us as much of a spike. What we do know is just one cup a day can be very, very healthy for you. In terms of caffeine, I try not to promote more than one or two cups a day.

More of this interview can be heard on "Take Care," WRVO's health and wellness show Sunday at 6:30p.m. Support for this story comes from the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York.