Skip to content

6 Ways Drinking Green Tea Can Add Years to Your Life, According to Science

Regular consumption of green tea could increase your lifespan in multiple ways.
FACT CHECKED BY Cheyenne Buckingham

Green tea is widely acknowledged as being good for your health. And as more researchers take a closer look at the effects of drinking green tea—as well as the compounds and molecules in it that have beneficial interactions with our bodies—there's an increasing body of evidence that green tea can help us live longer.

As we're continuously uncovering new ways in which green tea helps keep us healthy, it's easy to question if there is such a thing as too much green tea. Many studies show that drinking between five and ten cups a day—which is a lot of green tea—can actually decrease your risk for a number of diseases, as outlined below.

But, there is a possibility that drinking too much green tea could cause some of the negative effects associated with too much caffeine intake. (Related: 100 Easiest Recipes You Can Make).

There's also a risk that drinking green tea in large quantities could lead to reduced iron absorption and anemia. These risks increase with green tea supplements, which are more highly concentrated. However, capping your daily consumption between three and five cups appears to be an optimal amount.

Below, you'll see six ways in which drinking green tea regularly can potentially add years to your life. And then, don't miss What Happens To Your Body When You Drink Green Tea.

It may help you beat superbugs

green tea

With the invention of antibiotics, humans figured out a way to help our bodies overcome once-deadly illnesses. But many antibiotics are no longer as effective as they once were, as bacteria, parasites, and viruses have begun to develop resistance to them. These strains are known as "superbugs," according to Harvard Health Publishing.

That doesn't mean there isn't hope for the antibiotic pills you've been prescribed, however. Research published in a 2008 study revealed that drinking green tea while taking antibiotics significantly enhanced the bacteria-killing properties of the antibiotics. A more recent study published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology in 2019 unveiled similar findings.

It may prevent death from heart attack and stroke

matcha green tea with whisk on white countertop

A 2006 study, that consisted of over 40,000 Japanese adults, found that those who drank more than five cups of green tea a day had a 26% lower risk of death from heart attacks or strokes.

What's more, the latest research reveals that if you've already had a heart attack or a stroke, regular green tea consumption is associated with a reduced risk of of death. Stroke survivors who drank green tea were 62% less likely to die during the study period and heart attack survivors cut their risk by 53%.

Scientists are still trying to understand the mechanisms by which green tea improves heart health. Research published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry suggests that a compound in green tea may break up potentially dangerous plaque build-up in blood vessels, which in turn reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke.

It may help your body fight autoimmune diseases

Green tea in mugs

Research from Oregon State University suggests that a particular compound in green tea called EGCG can help our body fight autoimmune diseases.

When someone has an autoimmune disease, the body's immune response goes awry and attacks itself. As the researchers from the university point out, there are certain cells in the body that exist to control this kind of response, called regulatory T cells.

More specifically, they discovered that EGCG has the potential to increase the body's number of regulatory T cells. Though the initial research was conducted on mice, this is promising news in terms of green tea's possible ability to protect against autoimmune diseases.

It lowers the risk of death for people with diabetes

Green tea

Drinking four or more cups of green tea a day lowers the risk of dying from any cause in people with type 2 diabetes, suggests an observational study published in the BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.

Those with type 2 diabetes are more prone to a number of serious health conditions, such as circulatory diseases, dementia, cancer, and bone fractures. The study found that participants who drank a combination of green tea and coffee had significantly lower risk factors for death, with the lowest risk being among those who drank four or more cups of green tea and two or more cups of coffee daily.

However, more research is needed to understand these associations. Drinking green tea may even help to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, as a 2018 study on Japanese adults found.

It may prevent cancer

green tea

Studies show that green tea may protect against prostate and breast cancer. What's more, drinking green tea might increase levels of a naturally occurring anti-cancer protein known as p53. A new study published by researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recently uncovered an interaction between the EGCG compound in green tea and the p53 protein, which one of the researchers called "arguably the most important protein in human cancer."

Cancer kills an estimated 600,000 people in the U.S. each year. While more research is needed to confirm the anti-cancer properties of green tea outside of the lab, researchers from a 2018 study noted, green tea compounds combined with other treatments, like "chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immune therapy, and molecular targeted therapy is expected to have some clinical benefit in patients with cancer."

Studies show it increases your life expectancy

holding a cup of green tea
Monika Grabkowska/Unsplash

Longitudinal studies show that habitual green tea drinkers just generally tend to live longer than people who don't drink green tea. In a 2020 study conducted on over 100,000 Chinese participants, those who drank green tea at least three times a week lived on average 15 months longer than those who didn't drink green tea.

Of course, this data only draws observational associations between drinking green tea and a longer life, rather than finding green tea to be the direct cause. Scientists are still trying to understand the mechanisms by which green tea could increase the length of someone's life. And there may be other, hidden reasons why green tea drinkers live longer—those who drink green tea could also make healthier lifestyle choices in general, for example.

To learn more about the different types of green tea (and which ones to buy), be sure to read The 7 Best Matcha Powders on Amazon, According to an Expert.

Urvija Banerji
Urvija Banerji has written about food for publications like Atlas Obscura, Eater, and The Swaddle. Read more about Urvija
Filed Under