The Nation's Health + health

Green tea: friend or faux?

The www.HealthCastle.com website is a helpful website on healthy eating that sends out a free newsletter. The content is all produced by licensed dietitions and nutritionists. Although I don't agree with everything said on the site, there's still some good information.

I'm a fan of green tea. Although I believe the effects are relatively modest (weight reduction, cholesterol reduction, anti-oxidation, etc., with theaflavin and/or green tea as a beverage,) they alerted me to the fact that the Lipton Green Tea product is one you should steer clear of. Here are their comments:

Healthcare

"More like Soft drink than Green Tea! With 200 calories, 13 teaspoons of added sugar and a long list of artificial ingredients, Lipton Iced Green Tea is more like a bottle of soft drink than tea, in our opinion."

The Lipton website lists the ingredients:

Water, high fructose corn syrup , citric acid, green tea, sodium hexametaphosphate, ascorbic acid (to protect flavor), honey, natural flavors, phosphoric acid, sodium benzoate (preserves freshness), potassium sorbate (preserves freshness), calcium disodium edta (to protect flavor), caramel color, tallow 5, blue1.

An 8 oz serving yields 21 grams of sugar. If you drink the full 20 oz. bottle (not hard to do!), that yields 52.5 grams of sugar! You will also notice that the second ingredient listed after water is high fructose corn syrup. This ingredient, you may recall, causes triglycerides to skyrocket, causes an insatiable sweet tooth, and is a probable contributor to obesity and diabetes.

In their defense, the Lipton people do also offer a sugar-free alternative without the excessive sweeteners and empty calories.

Do the Lipton products offer the same kind of benefits from green tea catechins (flavonoids) offered by freshly brewed teas? This product has not been formally tested by an independent lab to my knowledge, though, in general, commercially prepared and bottled teas tend to have dramatically less catechin/flavonoid content compared to brewed. (The USDA website provides access to an extraordinary collection of flavonoid food content at their USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods - 2003. You'll find it at http://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=6231.)

I think the HealthCastle people got it right: Brew your own, making sure to steep for at least 3 minutes. Alternatively, a green tea or theaflavin supplement provides many of the benefits. (Theaflavin has been used in trials at doses of 375 to 900 mg per day.) An in-depth report on green tea will be coming in a future Special Report on the www.healthcare.gov Membership website.

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