Green tea has been shown to help prevent cancer and promote heart health. But, you have to take those health benefits of green tea on faith – you can’t peer into your body to see prevention at work.

There is, however, another benefit of green tea – and that green tea benefit might be quite noticeable.

Smoothing out the kinks

Green tea has been shown to be a stress relief, but no studies have examined the effect of green tea on distress. And that line between stress and distress is often a fine one.

Stress can be either good or bad. For instance, competition can be stressful, but gratifying. That’s known as eustress.

But, when you’re an NFL quarterback who’s struggling, and there’s a talented second stringer who wants your job and the fans and sportswriters are begging your coach to bench you, that’s stressful in the extreme. Not much gratification there.

That’s distress – and in need of stress relief.

Researchers at Japan’s Tohoku University recently analyzed data collected from more than 42,000 adults. Data included dietary habits and psychological information.

Results: Subjects who drank five or more cups of green tea daily were inclined to have low distress levels. Low green tea intake (one cup or less per day) was linked to significantly higher distress scores.

These differences in stress relief held true even when other lifestyle factors were considered.

Word of caution

Green tea drinkers might lower distress just by thinking about these health benefits of green tea:

  • Green tea has been shown to curb some cancers
  • Green tea helps control blood pressure
  • Green tea may reduce brain plaques typical of Alzheimer’s patients

Research shows that EGCG (a catechin) is the component of green tea that makes all those green tea benefits possible. But, a word of caution: Too much EGCG may lower folate levels. This is significant because folate has been shown to help keep cognitive function sharp, ease depression, and reduce the risk of stroke and breast cancer.

Pregnant women and heart patients especially need to make a special effort to keep folate levels high. Dietary sources of folate include citrus fruits, tomatoes, leafy green vegetables, avocados, bananas, asparagus, whole grains, chicken liver, lentils, and pinto, navy, and kidney beans

Talk to your doctor before supplementing with folic acid.