Obesity has attained the status of an ‘epidemic’ in developed countries. Those involved in the weight loss industry have left no stone unturned to find novel ways to lose weight. In their efforts, they have researched practically every food item, including those that form the staple diet in tribal areas. The recent attraction to everything natural has also led to increased research in herbal and plant products that may help in reducing weight.
Camellia sinensis, a tropical evergreen shrub or small tree and a source of tea leaves, is one such plant that has undergone extensive research for its effectiveness as a natural weight loss remedy. The plant is processed in different ways to produce four types of teas.
- The least processed is white tea.
- Black tea is fermented.
- Oolong is Chinese tea, which is partially fermented and dried.
- Green tea leaves are steamed and not fermented.
Green tea is made solely from the leaves of Camellia sinensis with minimal oxidation during the processing phase. This helps to preserve its natural compounds. The link between green tea and weight loss is established through the presence of catechins in the leaves of the plant. Catechins are natural polyphenolic antioxidant metabolites, substances that are necessary for metabolism. Catechins decrease absorption and increase elimination of fat, and also intervene favorably in the production of certain enzymes that are required for the breakdown of fat. Catechins form nearly 25% of the dry weight of fresh tea leaves.
In addition, there are other health benefits of specific polyphenols like quercetin. They reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and inhibit the production of histamine and other allergic and inflammatory mediators.
While the health benefits of green tea are not disputed because of the strong medical evidence in their favor, it is important to mention here that any one specific food item cannot help you to lose weight by itself. Consumption of green tea catechins, for example, has also been known to reduce certain aging processes if it accompanies regular exercise. Similarly, to derive the maximum benefits of the antioxidant properties of green tea, it is necessary to follow any one of the healthy weight loss plans that are based on a balanced diet.