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Every time you drink a mug of green tea, you might feel a touch of superiority. After all, from what you've probably heard, green tea is basically a superfood in a cup, with health benefits that soar far above those of coffee, juice, wine, beer, or any other liquid. You may even squeeze in a little lemon, which seems to be one of the best ways to enhance the health benefits of green tea, or add green tea to your smoothies.

But if you dig into the actual health effects of the brew, you'll see that a lot of studies have been done on animals or on cell cultures. Adding to the confusion, despite all that's been printed, the FDA has shot down most statements about green tea benefits, and the approved ones aren't exactly inspiring: “Green tea may reduce the risk of breast or prostate cancer although the FDA has concluded that there is very little scientific evidence for this claim.”

So what can a cuppa green truly do for you? Anandh Babu Pon Velayutham, Ph.D., an assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Utah, studies the effects of green tea. He clears up the confusion on five claims:

Green Tea Boosts Metabolism
True. This is one of the claims dieters live by, so the good news is that it's true. Study after study has shown that green tea can boost your body's ability to burn fat, in turn helping you lose weight. [Tweet this news!] Of course, for best results you'll want to make other dietary changes, such as eating more protein and leafy greens and less sugar. 

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Green Tea Can Improve Cholesterol
True. Green tea can help reduce all levels of cholesterol, including LDL (bad) cholesterol, thereby reducing your risk of heart disease, which is inextricably linked to cholesterol levels.

Green Tea Can Prevent Some Cancers
True. Brew up a cup to reduce your risk of ovarian, breast, prostate, or endometrial cancers, and research continues to be conducted on other types of cancers. People who have already been diagnosed can slow the growth of these cancers too.

Green Tea Helps Reduce Blood Sugar Levels
Probably. Having too much glucose in the blood can lead to a number of health problems, including type 2 diabetes. Animal studies show that green tea can help lower blood sugar, and evidence that this is the case in humans is mounting, however, there isn't enough proof to say this indisputably.

Green Tea Improves Brain Function
Maybe. A new piece of research from the University of Basel found that drinking green tea might help with short-term recall, but further testing is required to make any sort of official claims related to memory. [Tweet this fact!]

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And, although a number of the green tea studies tracked the use of green tea extract supplements, Velayutham says you can expect the same benefits when you drink actual cups of steaming green tea. He recommends drinking about 3 cups of green tea a day and forgoing the supplements entirely because too many green tea catechins can be a bad thing. As many as 10 cups of green tea each day is safe, but it's easy to go above that dosage when taking pills instead.

By Jessica Cassity for DietsInReview.com

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