This One Trick Makes Green Tea So Much Healthier, Says A Functional Nutritionist
When it comes to longevity-supporting foods, herbal tea certainly ranks high on the list. Deanna Minich, Ph.D., IFMCP, a functional nutritionist who studies plant-based pigments, would agree: "Look at all the cultures that live the longest. They're drinking a variety of tea throughout the day," she says on the mindbodygreen podcast. Green tea receives much of the love—it's well deserved, of course, as green tea contains the powerful catechin EGCG1, which has more than a few anti-inflammatory benefits.
However, says Minich, there's a way you can punch up the benefits even further, enhancing the catechins and supercharging your brew as you sip. The best part? It's a fairly low-lift trick you may be doing already.
How to make your green tea even healthier.
Simple: Just squeeze a bit of lemon into your tea. "Most people don't know this, but if you have green tea and you squeeze lemon into the tea, you can potentiate the catechins and make the catechins actually work better in your body," says Minich. Of course, more research is needed to back up the claim, but science does approve of the relationship at large.
Specifically, one study found that green tea with lemon had more polyphenols than green tea on its own. This doesn't mean that green tea doesn't have its own impressive list of antioxidants—it definitely does!—but when you compare the two, green tea with lemon does have its slight differences. Another theory, as depicted in the Journal of Food Processing and Technology, is that lemon's high-acid content enhances green tea's antioxidants, which then makes them more easily absorbed by the body.
Plus, lemon boasts its own antioxidant profile already, with significant amounts of immune-supporting vitamin C2, so it can't hurt to squeeze a bit of the juice into your morning cup of tea. Better yet, add the zest, too: Lemon zest contains compounds called salvestrol Q40 and limonene, which are known to have antioxidant properties3, and lemon peels may have five to 10 times more vitamins than the juice itself4.
You're probably thinking: Green tea with lemon? That's the trick? To which we say: Sure is! And that's exactly what makes this hack so great. It's simple, accessible, and familiar—yet, according to Minich, a little citrus can significantly enhance the benefits of your tea.
According to Minich, adding lemon to your green tea can supercharge the drink's antioxidants even further. Of course, green tea has loads of antioxidants on its own, so feel free to sip away, sans lemon. But if you're partial to a bit of citrus—for the taste, perhaps—you should know that the pair also has some science-backed benefits.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and more. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.