Buyer beware. Don’t believe everything you read. Okay, they’re not the most original phrases, but when it comes to the marketing of tea and the many health benefits that it’s said to bestow on us, they’re appropriate maxims to keep in mind.

Green tea study (Photo source: screen capture from site)

Green tea study (Photo source: screen capture from site)

My standard disclaimer here. Yes, I do believe that tea can have some benefits to the health of those who drink it. There’s just too much evidence in favor of this notion to believe otherwise. On the other hand, I certainly don’t believe everything I read when it comes to this sort of thing, and I think there are plenty of people out there who are prone to exaggerate the health benefits of tea in the name of commerce, among other things.

Take weight loss, fat burning, and that sort of thing. If you go on a casual skim through the Internet you could be forgiven for thinking that tea – and especially green tea – is a miracle elixir that will instantly melt away pounds and unsightly fat. But does it really? It’s a topic we’ve addressed in these pages before, including this article, but a recent article in the New York Times motivated me to take another look.

The focus in the article – as with so many studies on tea and health – was on a compound in tea called Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which some believe is the magic ingredient that gives tea and tea extracts the power to melt away pounds and fat.

Which is all well and good and it would sure be nice, but it’s not necessarily true, according a pair of studies cited in the article. The verdict, at least according to one group of Canadian researchers, is that green tea “preparations” can cause a small amount of weight loss in overweight adults, but they ultimately concluded, “green tea had no significant effect on the maintenance of weight loss.”

The other study, conducted by researchers in the Netherlands and United Kingdom, wasn’t particularly bullish on the prospects for green tea extract to burn fat during exercise. Test subjects took the extract and exercised for either one day or seven, with no effect on fat oxidation in the former case and no significant effect in the latter.

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