Green tea is a type of tea that originated in China but now has spread and is enjoyed all over the world. Known for its health benefits, people will drink green tea to aid weight loss, boost their metabolism, and improve their general health. While drinking endless cups of your regular builder’s tea is not very good for your health, you can drink up to 10 cups of green tea a day and reap the benefits! So, what are the benefits of drinking green tea?
Is green tea good for your health?
Green tea is full of antioxidants which are fantastic for our health. There are many things in the fitness world that claim to be great for you but are actually just a gimmick, however antioxidants are proven to be good for us. Oxidisation is a natural process that happens to everything in nature (think rust). It is this process that causes us to age and the oxidisation of our cells can lead to ill health. By consuming antioxidants in our diet through superfoods like blueberries and green tea, you can slow down the ageing process and improve your health.
The tea leaves used to make green tea don’t go through the same oxidisation process used to make oolong and black tea which is why it is considered a superfood. Green tea contains many vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, folate (naturally occurring folic acid), manganese, potassium, magnesium, caffeine and other antioxidants, notably catechins. All of this goodness will give you benefits such as improved mood, clearer skin, and a faster metabolism.
What if I don’t like green tea?
Green tea can be a little bitter when drunk on its own and its taste is not for everyone! The health benefits are so good that even if you don’t like drinking green tea, it’s still worth trying to get it into your diet somehow. Matcha green tea powder is a food supplement that you can put in smoothies or juices to still get all the benefits. One scoop of matcha green tea powder is the equivalent of drinking 10 cups of green tea! Matcha is a finely ground powder of green tea which is specially grown to promote the production of caffeine and theanine which can calm your mood when consumed. Matcha is now a widely recognised superfood and health food product and is used in everything from ice cream to confectionery.
- 80g whole chia seeds
- 20g cocoa powder
- 125ml oat milk
- 20ml maple syrup
- 30g Pulsin Cacao Maca Supershake Energy Blend
- 30g Peanut Butter of choice
- 375ml water
- To serve...peanut butter, dark chocolate shavings, yogurt or non dairy alternative of choice!
- Place all ingredients into a large jug. Give everything a good stir, place into the fridge and leave to sit for one hour. Stir up to ensure the chia seeds aren’t clumping up and then return to the fridge for 3 hours or overnight.
- Place the mixture into a high speed blender; you will not be able to create a smooth pudding in a food processor.
- Blend for 5 minutes until the pudding is thick and smooth.
- Divide between serving glasses or bowls and top with desired toppings. Can be kept in the fridge for up to three days.
Inflammation can affect us in many different ways, from swollen joints to bruising and even immobility. These are some foods which are proven to have anti-inflammatory properties and could help to make you healthier.
Turmeric is the main ingredient used in curry powder and is often used as a natural colourant due to its vibrant yellow hue. Studies have found that turmeric is more effective than a placebo at reducing inflammation and swelling in arthritis patients, so it's useful for more than just brightening up your food! It is the yellow pigment curcumin that gives turmeric its meany health benefits and while more research still needs to be done, it's fair to say that turmeric is worth adding to your diet for its anti-inflammatory properties.
There are lots of easy ways you can add turmeric to your daily diet, even if you're not a big fan of curry! Health food brand LoveRaw have a delicious Turmeric Chai Latte as one of their many vegan, plant-based offerings which is a delicious way to subtly add this spice to your day and reap its many health benefits.
Garlic is often referred to as a 'superfood' due to its numerous health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and guarding against common illnesses like the flu. However, garlic is also another food which can reduce inflammation and help you to recover better after exercise. In the same way that taking a cold shower after a workout can reduce swelling and improve recovery, anti-inflammatory foods like garlic can work with your body to reduce pain and immobility. Research shows that synthetic anti-inflammatory drugs can have negative side effects, but garlic actually has many positive benefits such as being anti-bacterial, anti-rheumatic, and indeed anti-inflammatory.
Garlic is highly potent when raw, but unfortunately cooking it in order to make it more palatable does destroy many of the compounds which give it the best health benefits. There are ways to get raw garlic into your diet, such as taking garlic pills, which can be easier on the gut and prevent dreaded garlic breath!
Ginger is another highly potent and flavoursome food which has many health benefits when consumed raw. Not only does it have proven anti-inflammatory properties, it can also be used as a guard against nausea, with people historically drinking ginger ale to calm an upset stomach. According to research, ginger is superior to a placebo in treating vomiting, nausea, and inflammation. It has even been found to reduce the effects of morning sickness in pregnant women.
While it may be tempting to start eating more than your fair share of sticky ginger cake or tasty gingerbread, it is best to get this superfood into your diet in its raw form. An easy way to do this is by drinking ginger-infused tea as this means you are not consuming too many extra calories and still reaping all its wonderful health benefits.
Studies have found that the acetic acid found in various types of vinegar not only reduces inflammation, it can even help with weight loss and prevent over-eating. Inflammation can be chronic if you are overweight or obese so the fact that consuming vinegar could potentially reduce both inflammation and over-eating makes it a win-win!
Vinegar is something that is fairly easy to introduce into your diet, such as sprinkling apple cider vinegar over salads or even just putting more vinegar on your chips, although this is of course not an ideal way to be more healthy!
Sundried ambassador Anne Iarchy is a personal trainer and nutritionist. She shares with us her deliciously healthy sugar-free banana loaf recipe.
Truly sugar-free banana cake
A few weeks ago, I was working at the Woburn Tri for Life, and at the end of a very successful day, we had masses of bananas left. After eating a banana a day for a few days, the rest of the bananas I took home were a little too ripe to my taste (I do like them just yellow from green), so I decided to bake a banana loaf.
I have two recipes, one with sugar and butter, one with coconut oil and dates, but I really wanted one with no sugar at all. After all, ripe bananas are very sweet. I did some research on the internet, and I was really surprised to see how many recipes came up “pretending” they were sugar-free, but just swapping the sugar to honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup and other sweeteners.
Although honey is healthier than sugar (and that depends on the amount of processing of the honey), it has the same effect on blood sugar levels and insulin release than sugar.
Here is my truly sugar-free banana loaf recipe which still tastes amazing and is much healthier than any other you will find.
6-7 overripe bananas, previously frozen and defrosted
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups of gluten-free self raising flour (this is what I used but self-raising flour will work fine too)
2/3 cup of walnut pieces
Preheat oven at 190C (Gas Mark 5)
Lightly grease an 8x4" cake tin
In a bowl, mush the bananas, mix the eggs, vanilla and coconut oil, till properly mixed.
Slowly add the flour bit by bit and stir well.
Stir in the walnuts
Pour into the tin, decorate with some walnuts if you want to.
Put in the oven to bake for approx 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted comes out dry.
Cool before slicing.
The cake came out moist and it was definitely sweet enough.
A slice of the cake makes a lovely healthy snack.
It keeps well for 4-5 days covered in foil.
Intermittent fasting is becoming one of the most popular methods to lose weight and for good reason. It has been used for centuries for both physical and spiritual reasons and has stood the test of time to become more than just a 'fad'. Some people swear by fasted cardio for fat loss while others utilise the principles of the 5:2 diet to help them shed the pounds. But when you fast, a lot more happens to your body than just weight loss. I gave fasting a go and here's what I discovered.
It was the easiest weight loss I've ever experienced
I really struggle with my weight due to, honestly, being so greedy and essentially addicted to food. I exercise a lot which helps, but I'm just not one of these people who can eat 'everything in moderation'. If I have a tub of ice cream, the whole thing is getting eaten. That's 1,000 calories in one sitting without a second thought. I've tried 'dieting' before but I know as well as the next person that fad diets don't work and that restricting your favourite foods day-in-day-out is just miserable and you end up gaining back all the weight when you snap.
The difference with fasting was that by fasting 2 days a week (following in the vein of the 5:2 diet), my overall weekly calories dropped without me having to really do much else. What amazed me was that by fasting for those 2 days, my control over food increased and I was able to stop eating so mindlessly on the days when I did eat.
I took it day by day and gradually reduced my intake of unhealthy foods (especially at the weekend). I'm fully aware that there's no point in fasting/restricting during the week only to eat back all the calories at the weekend. However, it's important to point out that I would have been eating those calories at the weekend anyway due to my lack of self control, so if I had also eaten more calories during the week, my weekly total would be much higher and I would keep gaining weight.
Fasting gave me an easy opportunity to reduce my weekly calories and gave me time to think about my unhealthy relationship with food rather than feeling like I had to restrict myself every single day and feel like I was 'on a diet'.
I had so much more free time
I spend a lot of time preparing my lunch for work and doing the washing up when I get home which can really feel like a chore. I chose to have my fasting days on days when I'm in the office (I sometimes work from home), which meant I saved a lot of time not having to think about what to have for lunch in advance, prepare it, and then hand-wash the Tupperware afterwards (putting plastic in a dishwasher is such a disaster!)
Not only did I save time on lunches, I was able to have around 20 more minutes in bed in the morning because I wasn't preparing and eating breakfast before work. It worked out well for me because I usually just eat lunch at my desk, so I didn't miss it when I was at work and it actually freed up my time to focus on something else.
I saved money
I am very conscious of my weekly expenditure and pay careful attention to my budgeting. However, I'm hugely guilty of spending way more money on food than I should. This includes the weekly grocery shopping as well as takeaways, going out to eat, and top-up shops (usually for unhealthy snacks when the craving hits in the evening). By fasting 2 days a week I saved a huge £30 ($40) a week! That's £120 ($170) extra at the end of the month to go towards more important things.
I learnt to control my impulses
I'm definitely guilty of eating when I'm not actually hungry. By fasting, I was able to re-learn how to listen to my body and understand the difference between real hunger and 'toxic hunger'. It also taught me to be patient and not give in to cravings as soon as they hit. Instead, I learnt to wait until I was actually hungry to eat and not just eat 'because it's dinner time' or because other people were eating.
I didn't get hangry
The hunger I experienced when I was fasting was totally different to the hunger I feel normally. It was something I was totally in control of and it was easier to handle emotionally because I knew why I was experiencing it as I was the one causing it. Rather than being hungry because there was no food available to me, or because I wasn't letting myself give in to a craving, or because I was just bored, I was able to block out the hunger and ignore it. My brain was able to tell my stomach, "Yes, you're empty. Get used to it." As such, I didn't experience any of the usual symptoms that come with being hungry, such as anger and frustration.
A new lifestyle
My overall experience with intermittent fasting was hugely positive in so many aspects that I will continue it indefinitely. As it is such a tried and tested lifestyle choice, it is something that can be sustained for a long time. It's important to point out that I never fasted for more than 24 hours at a time and I did not exercise on days when I was fasting. If you are going to try fasting, it's vital you do your research first and only do it if it suits you.
As a method for weight loss, it worked for me because I'm an 'all or nothing' sort of person and so I'd rather eat nothing at all than be able to eat but not eat what I want (hence the entire tub of ice cream example earlier). This was only my experience and it won't be the same for everyone.