The health benefits of drinking green tea have been known traditionally since Medieval times in China.
Since the 8th century people have consumed green tea for its therapeutic value, which we now know extends from heart-healthy benefits to improved brain function to cancer-fighting effects.
Scientists are now cataloging the many health benefits of green tea by conducting clinical studies. Here, you’ll discover what the scientific community knows about green tea and what it can do for your health.
If you don’t want to gulp down half a dozen cups of tea every day, green tea extract is a fantastic alternative.
Part 1 ranks and reviews the best green tea extract supplements on the market. Part 2 will break down how it works and what it can do for your body.
Here’s our #1 choice:
The name Bulk Supplements is synonymous with pure, inexpensive, and high-quality supplements packaged in loose powder form.
This is exactly the case with its green tea extract offering. It comes in a sealable foil bag containing the loose powdered extract, leaving the measuring up to you.
The green tea extract is standardized to contain at least 50% polyphenols. Serving size is a bit arbitrary with a loose powder, but per 400 milligrams, Bulk Supplements Green Tea Extract contains 270 mg of EGCG and 1 mg of caffeine.
This is good news if you’re caffeine sensitive, as there’s barely any caffeine in it; however, if you’re relying on a synergistic interaction between the green tea polyphenols and the caffeine to burn more energy, you’ll be out of luck.
The extent to which caffeine plays a role in green tea’s mechanism of action remains unclear; there are certainly some health effects which can be attributed to the caffeine alone, but not all of them.
As with any powdered supplement that demands precise measurements, you’ll need a micro scale to accurately gauge your green tea extract dosage.
With doses as small as 200 or 400 mg, eyeballing it with a teaspoon isn’t going to cut it. If green tea extract is going to be a part of your routine for a while, it’s worth getting the scale to save money in the long run from a high-quality powder form green tea supplement like this one.
In most types of supplements, Bulk Supplements has free reign over the loose powder sector of the market.
Not so with green tea extract—Hard Rhino Green Tea Extract is another loose powder green tea extract that comes in a resealable foil bag and offers a high quality product at a low cost.
Hard Rhino is standardized to contain 95% polyphenols, 75% catechins, and 50% EGCG, so in these respects it’s quite comparable to Bulk Supplements.
It does contain slightly more caffeine (4 mg caffeine in 400 mg of powder) but this is still plenty low enough to prevent any caffeine jitters.
Comparing EGCG content side-to-side is totally unhelpful—compared on a by-weight basis, Bulk Supplements and Hard Rhino have essentially identical EGCG concentrations, even when you look at numbers determined from independent lab testing.
Both are also pure green tea extract; they contain no other ingredients whatsoever.
Ultimately, Hard Rhino Green Tea Extract ends up slightly below Bulk Supplements Green Tea Extract based purely on cost and availability: The latter supplement is simply a bit cheaper and easier to find. All else equal, that will make the difference for most people!
As the number one green tea extract product on Amazon.com, Zhou Green Tea Extract is definitely well-known.
And for good reason: it provides an inexpensive, straightforward green tea extract supplement without any extraneous ingredients.
The gelatin capsules provide 500 mg of green tea extract each; some 95% of this is polyphenols, 80% catechins, and 50% EGCG. If this sounds confusing and technical, don’t worry. These are just chemical markers to determine how concentrated a particular green tea extract is.
The rest of the ingredients are simple and standard for a capsule supplement: gelatin to make up the body of the capsule, as well as magnesium stearate as a binder and stabilizer.
Because green tea itself contains caffeine, Zhou green tea extract contains caffeine too. Each capsule contains no more than 15 milligrams—this is about one-sixth or one-seventh the caffeine contents in a cup of coffee.
For most people, you’ll be able to take this supplement at any time without having “caffeine jitters,” but if you’re especially caffeine sensitive, you might want to avoid taking it within a few hours of going to bed.
Though it’s a ubiquitous brand that you can find at drug stores and big-box retailers, Nutrigold usually puts out solid supplement options.
Its green tea extract comes in a vegetarian capsule made of plant cellulose that delivers a 500 mg dose of green tea extract. The extract is standardized such that 90% of it is polyphenols, 80% is catechins, and 50% is EGCG.
Like many other green tea extract supplements, it’s decaffeinated; each capsule contains only about 3 mg of caffeine.
That’s one-tenth of the amount that’s in a real cup of green tea. The EGCG dose has been independently lab-tested and is indeed over 50% of the contents; a 500 mg capsule was determined to contain 276 mg of EGCG (55% by weight).
As we’ve come to expect, Nutrigold delivers with its green tea extract offering. It’s a very good choice if you are looking for a health-promoting green tea supplement that delivers a solid dosage of polyphenols.
As you might guess from its name, Life Extension Mega Green Tea Extract is focused purely on the health benefits of green tea.
Its vegetable cellulose capsules provide 725 mg of green tea extract each, standardized to 98% polyphenols and 45% EGCG by weight. Because the focus is overall health benefits and not weight loss, the capsules are decaffeinated; each capsule contains barely 2 mg of caffeine.
Independent analytical testing also reveals that the label-listed amounts are fairly accurate; the actual EGCG concentration was 8% higher than the listed amount, which is pretty good.
Outside of the green tea content, the ingredients in the capsules are nothing remarkable. Your standard fare for filling up capsules (rice flour, magnesium stearate, silica) are present, but nothing outside of this.
Life Extension Mega Green Tea Extract is a pretty straightforward supplement geared towards delivering a solid dosage of green tea extract to boost your health.
It may not be what you’re looking for if weight loss is your primary goal, but it’s a great choice if you want to take advantage of the health benefits of green tea.
The green tea extract supplement offered by Nature’s Wellness delivers 500 mg of green tea extract, of which 98% is polyphenols, 75% is catechins, and 45% is EGCG. These numbers are better than many competitors, but not the absolute best.
Notably, its capsule is gelatin, meaning it’s animal-derived.
Its caffeine content is on the high end of what you’d expect in a green tea extract supplement. The label lists that up to 5% of the contents could be caffeine; this would mean that a 500 mg capsule would contain around 15-25 mg of caffeine—about as much as you’d get in one or two cups of real green tea.
This does mean that you shouldn’t take Nature’s Wellness Green Tea Extract within a few hours of going to bed if you’re caffeine sensitive, and you do need to be mindful of the other caffeine you’re consuming if you take this supplement multiple times daily, but it’s still only one quarter to one-eighth the amount of caffeine that’s in a cup of coffee.
The caffeine content is actually good news if you are looking to lose weight.
There may be a synergistic reaction between the polyphenols in green tea extract and the well-known metabolism boosting properties of caffeine; these wouldn’t occur in a supplement that had very little caffeine.
Now Foods is a perennial supplement manufacture with an irregular record. Sometimes, their products are fantastic, and other times, their products are more lackluster.
Each vegetarian capsule (made with vegetable cellulose) contains 400 mg of green tea extract, and up to 32 mg of caffeine. This makes taking a capsule on par with drinking a real cup of green tea.
This is still only about a third of the caffeine in a cup of coffee, but it’s enough to take note of. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on whether you want the caffeine alongside the green tea polyphenols.
If you are taking green tea extract mainly for its antioxidant and health-promoting properties, you could probably do without the caffeine, but if you want to use it as a weight loss supplement, the caffeine is more likely to be helpful. If this latter approach describes you, Now Foods Green Tea extract is a good choice.
Independent lab testing determined that the EGCG content of the supplement—a marker for how concentrated the polyphenols in the supplement are—was on the lower end. Each 400 mg capsule provided 144 mg of ECGC, or about 36%.
VitaSage is a fairly standard green tea extract without any surprising or out-of-the-ordinary properties.
It provides the kind of dosage you’d expect: 500 mg of green tea extract, 98% of which is polyphenols, 75% catechins, and 45% EGCG.
Lab testing pegs the actual EGCG content at more like 51% by weight, and each capsule contains about 11 mg of caffeine: higher than normal, but also high enough that it may have some weight loss benefits by interacting with the biologically active compounds in the green tea extract.
In terms of other ingredients, there’s very little out of the ordinary. The capsule is made from animal derived gelatin, so vegetarians and vegans may want to look elsewhere, but the only other ingredients are magnesium stearate and silicon dioxide, which are standard fare.
Despite its name (gearing its marketing towards people whose goal is to burn fat), Primaforce Lean Green is a decaffeinated green tea extract.
It delivers 500 mg of green tea extract per capsule, a pretty standard amount. Of this 500 mg, 98% is polyphenols, 60% is EGCG, and 40% is catechins.
These numbers are pretty good, especially considering that it’s a straightforward supplement with no other ingredients, magnesium stearate and silicon dioxide excluded.
Independent analytical lab testing did show that the label-listed amount of EGCG was inaccurate to the tune of about eleven percent; however, it’s an error in your favor—Primaforce Lean Green actually contains more like 71% EGCG, not 60%.
Regardless, this is less than promising, as it suggests that the quality control during the manufacturing process is less than stellar. Combine this with its relatively high price tag for a middle-of-the-road supplement and it does not find itself at the top of the rankings.
The green tea extract made by Jarrow Formulas comes in a 500 mg tablet as opposed to the more standard gelatin or vegetarian cellulose capsules.
It delivers 500 mg of green tea extract, but only 50% of this is polyphenols, 30% catechins, and 15% EGCG. This may be the result of the extraction process, which is water-based.
Their philosophy may be to get the extract as close to a concentrated version of real green tea as possible.
Though this might have the benefit of delivering a more realistic extract of the green tea leaf, it also means that the concentration of polyphenols, catechins, and EGCG is substantially lower than in many of its competitors.
Other supplements on the market deliver over 90% polyphenols, and up to 50% EGCG. You’d need to take twice or three times as much of Jarrow Formulas’ green tea extract to get a similar dosage.
The tablets also have some extraneous ingredients. Acacia and virgin sesame seed oil are both present, probably to act as binders and excipients, making the green tea extract stick together well enough to be pressed into a tablet.
It also contains citric acid and silicon dioxide, which act as preservatives and help prevent the powder from sticking together in the manufacturing process.
In terms of caffeine, each capsule of Jarrow Formulas Green Tea Extract has about 9 mg. This is higher than the intensely decaffeinated supplements on the market, but lower than some of its other competitors. This presents one upside if you are trying to use this product for weight loss.
Because of the low concentration of polyphenols, catechins, and EGCG, it’s hard to rank Jarrow Formulas’ supplement very highly, especially when there are so many other good options on the market.
Part 2: What is green tea and why is it good for you?
Researchers have identified one single compound that’s responsible for the wide range of healthy effects you get when you consume green tea: catechins.
These are super-strength antioxidants that have incredibly powerful and healthful effects on cellular activity.
When a nutrient acts on the human body at the cellular level, it can act as the springboard for endless positive effects on health. Catechins have been shown to be more powerful than vitamins C and E when it comes to reducing oxidative damage to cells (1).
Catechins may also fight disease in other ways as well, but more research is needed.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School have concluded that green tea’s antioxidants improve health in at least 7 proven ways, with the potential for numerous more.
Here are the 7 proven benefits of drinking green tea:
#1. Green tea reduces the risk for certain types of cancer.
Scientists have shown over an over an association between drinking green tea and lowered risk of a handful of cancers. These include:
- esophageal (2)
- breast (3)
- lung (2)
- ovarian (4)
- pancreatic (5)
- stomach (6) (7)
- prostate (8)
More research is needed to move from “association” to “cause”, but clinical studies suggest it may be the polyphenols that help prevent cancer. These compounds may also even kill cancer cells.
One study of almost 500 women who had breast cancer showed that the women who consumed the largest quantities of green tea had the least spread of cancer. Plus, women in early stages of the disease were less likely to have the cancer come back when done with their treatment (9).
Studies like this one have been performed for every type of cancer listed above, each with positive conclusions about drinking green tea.
#2. It lowers cholesterol.
The proof has come in many times over: green tea lowers LDL cholesterol (the “bad” type). And it doesn’t just lower the LDL a little bit. Studies have shown that drinking green tea produces fantastically wonderful results in terms of lowering bad cholesterol (10).
The implications for prevention and treatment of heart disease are dizzying for the medical community.
#3. It boosts brain power.
This is probably the newest discovery about green tea benefits: it improves brain function. With a special emphasis on improving what researchers call “working memory”, green tea may someday be used to treat dementia (11).
Given this data, we soon be seeing green tea appearing in smart drugs as well!
#4. It boosts weight loss.
Until recently, doctors cited green tea as a weight loss aid only because it made a great substitute for drinking sugary soda. But now, evidence is appearing that green tea may actually take a more proactive role when it comes to helping you drop pounds.
A Penn State study (12) put some fat mice on a 16-week diet of green tea and exercise. They found that inclusion of green tea in the diet reduced body mass by 27.1%. The mice also lost abdominal fat at a rate of 36.6%.
The green tea also produced significant diabetic health benefits as well.
#5. It lowers blood pressure.
This benefit is truly exciting for doctors and patients with heart disease: drinking green tea may lower the risk of high blood pressure by as much as 50%. As little as half a cup per day may do the trick (13).
To reap this benefit, you’ll have to drink green tea every day for at least a year before you see much effect on blood pressure, according to researchers.
#6. It increases blood flow.
This is perhaps the main reason drinking green tea is such a heart-healthy activity. In healthy patients, green tea may reduce cardiovascular risk by improving blood flow in the brachial artery (14).
What’s more, it has to be green tea not black tea, not caffeine.
#7. It stabilizes blood sugar.
Anyone with diabetes knows that keeping your blood sugar levels stable is essential to health. Even those without diabetes can benefit from the effects on blood sugar levels that green tea can impart.
It may even lower blood sugar, according some scientists. Again, it’s the catechins that do the magic. They have been shown in clinical studies to lower the postprandial blood glucose in human subjects (15).
Green tea is so beneficial to health in so many ways, it has scientists and doctors excited about the future of health care.
Add to these proven health benefits the calming, stress-reducing benefits of drinking green tea and you’ll see why it’s considered a superfood. It may simply be the most healthiest thing in the world to drink.
All references retrieved 10/16/2015
- Benefit of drinking green tea: The proof is in – drinking tea is healthy, says Harvard Women’s Health Watch.Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/benefit_of_drinking_green_tea
- Yuan JM.Green tea and prevention of esophageal and lung cancers.Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21538848
- Inoue M et al. Regular Consumption of green tea and the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11369139
- Shang M et al. Green tea consumption enhances survival of epithelial ovarian cancer.
- Shankar S et al. EGCG inhibis growth of human pancreatic tumors…through modulation of FKHRL1/FOXO3a and neuropilin. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3508371/
- Takeshi Sano et al. Green Tea and Gastric Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM200103013440911
- Setiawan VW et al. Protective effect of green tea on the risks of chronic gastritis and stomach cancer. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ijc.1231/abstract
- Bettuzi S et al. Chemoprevention of human prostate cancer by oral administration of green tea catechins in volunteers with high grade prostate intraepithelial neoplasia: a preliminary report from a one-year proof-of-principle study.
- Green Tea. University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/green-tea/
- Zheng XX. Green tea intake lowers fasting serum total and LDL cholesterol in adults: a meta-analysis of 14 randomized controlled trials.Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21715508
- Schmidt Andre et al. Green tea extract enhances parieto-frontal connectivity during working memory processing. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00213-014-3526-1
- Mulhollem, Jeff. Research suggests that green tea, exercise boost weight loss, health. Retrieved from http://news.psu.edu/story/310179/2014/04/02/research/research-suggests-green-tea-exercise-boost-weight-loss-health
- Warner, Jennifer. Tea Drinkers Reap Blood Pressure Benefits.Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/news/20040726/tea-drinkers-reap-blood-pressure-benefits
- Alexopoulos N.et al. The acute effect of green tea consumption on endothelial function in healthy individuals. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18525384
- Lahirin, Rita et al. Additional benefit of higher dose green tea in lowering postprandial blood glucose. Retrieved from http://mji.ui.ac.id/journal/index.php/mji/article/view/1167