Green tea gets lots of praise and rightly so. It’s packed with health boosting polyphenols and there’s a growing body of evidence which suggests this powerful drink can help you lose weight, prevent cancer, prevent heart disease, reduce unnecessary inflammation and much more.
However, like many things in life, green tea is not a magic bullet and it’s not perfect. While drinking normal amounts of green tea can give your health a serious kick, drinking too much can have the opposite effect and actually damage your health. In this article I discuss the negative side effects of drinking too much green tea and outline how to stay within safe consumption limits when drinking this hot beverage.
The Negative Side Effects Of Drinking Too Much Green Tea
The main reason drinking too much green tea is dangerous is because it leads to you overdosing on the nutrients inside the green tea. Overdosing on these nutrients has a number of nasty side effects. The list below highlights which nutrients you risk overdosing on when drinking large amounts of green tea:
Caffeine is a stimulant that is found in coffee and most types of tea. The amount of caffeine in green tea varies by brand and type but on average a cup of green tea contains 25mg of caffeine.
Drinking up to 300mg of caffeine per day is believed to be safe. Exceeding this limit can lead to mild overdose symptoms such as a faster heart rate, muscle twitching and problems sleeping. Exceeding this limit heavily and drinking 700mg of caffeine or more in a day can lead to dangerous overdose symptoms such as disorientation and even fainting.
2) Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG)
Epigallocatechin gallate is one of the most potent phytonutrients in green tea and contributes heavily to many of its health benefits. On average, a cup of green tea contains 180mg of epigallocatechin gallate.
Overdosing on epigallocatechin gallate is relatively difficult and you need to consume at least 4,000mg before any harmful side effects kick in. However, if you do ingest 4,000mg or more, epigallocatechin gallate turns quite nasty and increases the amount of damage free radicals do inside your body while also raising your cancer risk.
3) Epicatechin Gallate (EGCG)
Epicatechin gallate is another powerful phytonutrient that can be found in green tea and has health boosting properties. An average cup of green tea provides you with 48mg of epicatechin gallate.
Epicatechin gallate is generally believed to be safe. However, some studies have suggested that consuming over 200mg each day can significantly increase your cancer risk.
How Much Green Tea Is Too Much?
Based on the limits above, you would need to drink 12 cups of green tea per day for a mild caffeine overdose to occur, 28 cups of green tea per day for a major caffeine overdose to occur, 22 cups of green tea per day for an epigallocatechin gallate overdose to occur and four cups of green tea for an epicatechin gallate overdose to occur (although the studies on epicatechin gallate overdose are not conclusive).
There are currently no official recommendations on the maximum amount of green tea you should be drinking each day but most sources suggest you should try and drink no more than 10 cups per day. Overall, this is a good recommendation as it will help you avoid all the major green tea overdose symptoms discussed in this article.
However, the only thing you need to bear in mind is that the nutrients found in green tea can also be found in other types of tea such as black tea, oolong tea and white tea. Caffeine can also be found in a range of beverages including coffee, cola and many sports drinks. Therefore, if you are drinking close to 10 cups of green tea each day, you really need to keep a close eye on your consumption of other beverages. Ideally, you should try and limit your combined consumption of teas and other caffeinated beverages to 10 cups a day.
Staying Safe When Drinking Green Tea
Sticking to the consumption limits above should help you avoid all the overdose symptoms associated with green tea. However, if you really like green tea, cutting down can be difficult. The list below contains a number of practical suggestions that will help you stay within safe limits:
1) Try Herbal Teas:- Herbal teas are an excellent caffeine and polyphenol free alternative to green tea. If you are currently drinking 10 cups or more of green tea each day, swapping a few of these cups for herbal tea will cut down the amount of caffeine and polyphenols you are consuming and prevent you from overdosing. As an added bonus, most herbal teas also have unique health benefits, so you will be giving your health even more of a boost by incorporating herbal teas into your day.
2) Try Hot Water:- If herbal teas aren’t your thing, hot water is another viable alternative. It doesn’t contain any nutrients but it still helps you avoid green tea overdose and despite the lack of flavor, it’s a surprisingly refreshing alternative.
3) Time Your Tea Breaks:- If green tea really is the only hot beverage you like drinking, one other solution is to time your breaks. Simply allow yourself to have one cup of green tea every 1.5 hours and as long as you get your eight hours sleep, there’s no way you can exceed 10 cups a day.
Green tea is a fantastic drink that you should definitely be drinking every day. However, I hope this article has helped you realize that there are some risks associated with its consumption. To avoid these risks, make sure you follow the advice in this article and keep your consumption of green tea and other similar beverages to a maximum of 10 cups per day.