Whether you like it piping hot or ice cold, green tea is welcome in any balanced diet. It’s a flavorful way to ensure you’re drinking enough fluids throughout the day, and the antioxidants found in tea have significant health benefits, too. However, there’s no established recommended daily intake for green tea, and it’s not clear how much you need to drink to get the most health benefits.
If you’re looking to support your overall good health, green tea offers one significant but simple benefit: it’s virtually free of calories but is incredibly hydrating. While the importance of hydration is often overlooked, water is essential for flushing toxins from your body, supporting your metabolism and keeping certain tissues – including the mucous membranes in your mouth and nose – moist and healthy.
While the best source of hydration is still water, green tea makes it easy to hydrate with more flavor, sans the calories and sugar found in some other drinks, like juice. In general, women need about 9 cups of beverages daily, while men need about 13 cups, and drinking green tea can help you get there.
Green tea also comes loaded with antioxidants, called catechins, which are responsible for some of its many health benefits. Antioxidants protect your tissues from highly reactive and toxic free radicals. Left unchecked, free radicals can react with your DNA, increasing the risk of genetic mutations. And since cancer is caused by genetic mutations, it’s no surprise that green tea may have anti-cancer properties.
One study, published in the “Journal of Cancer Prevention” in 2015, found that drinking large amounts of green tea might reduce the recurrence of cancer. The researchers found that people who drank about 5 cups of green tea daily, and supplemented with green tea catechins, had a lower risk of colon cancer recurrence over 10 years. While promising, researchers still need to look into how much of a protective benefit green tea actually has, and exactly how much you’d need to drink to get the benefit.
Benefits for Weight Control
Green tea has generated plenty of buzz as a weight loss drink, though the science doesn’t exactly bear that out. Still, though, drinking green tea can help support your active lifestyle. Staying hydrated is especially important if you work out regularly, since you lose more fluid than sedentary people via your sweat.
A review published in “Antioxidants Sport Nutrition” in 2015 also notes that green tea’s antioxidant activity may be especially beneficial for preventing cellular damage caused by exercise, since your body burns more calories and creates more free radicals during exercise. That antioxidant benefit may help you recover more easily from exercise or potentially increase your endurance. However, researchers still need to do more studies to know how well it works.
How Much to Drink?
There’s no specific intake guideline for green tea, and even research into green tea’s benefits doesn’t paint a clear picture of exactly how much you should drink each day. Several studies into green tea’s benefits actually use green tea extract, not the actual tea, while other studies use large quantities of tea that aren’t practical for most people. As a result, you should drink the amount of green tea you’re comfortable with, rather than aiming for a specific intake goal each day.
If you’re drinking lots of green tea daily, stay mindful that it does contain caffeine—up to 63 milligrams per cup. Drinking more than 10 cups of green tea daily might have side effects due to caffeine consumption, especially if you have an underlying condition, like liver disease or heart problems. For the most part, though, any moderate consumption is probably fine – so grab a mug and drink up.