Oolong tea comes from the same plant as green tea, Camellia sinensis.
It is a fermented version of green tea. It is also known as ‘Wu long’ tea and these interesting names come from the various theories related to its origin.
But that is not our cup of tea, right!? Sorry bad one…Oolong tea is native to China and not as popular as green tea.
It accounts for less than 2% of the world’s tea production.
Oolong tea is rich in polyphenols, compounds which impart flavour and aroma to the tea. It is rich in antioxidants, vitamin A, B, C,E and micronutrients. It has low caffeine content.
It reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases, prevents diabetes, aids in stress management and also has anti-cancer properties. It is rich in antioxidants and hence can contribute to healthy skin and healthy bones.
How oolong tea can help you beat obesity?
Just like green tea, oolong tea aids in weight loss and it does so by boosting metabolism.
Following research studies demonstrate the different ways by which oolong tea helps in weight loss.
1. Teasaponin present in oolong tea helps in weight loss
Teasaponin is a compound extracted from camellia seeds. It is used as a surfactant and detergent in chemical industry. It also possesses biological properties by which it reduces inflammation, cholesterol, prevents heart disease and relieves cough.
Teasaponin is proven to prevent weight gain by inhibiting activity of enzyme lipase and there by delaying absorption of fat from food.
Results of an experimental study demonstrated that apart from weight loss, teasaponin also aids in reducing inflammation associated with obesity. This compound was found to reduce chemicals causing inflammation and improved glucose and insulin levels. It also regulated leptin levels and controlled appetite.
What does it mean? Teasaponins are active constituents of green tea which aid in weight loss by controlling appetite and delaying absorption of fats from diet.
2. Oolong tea helps shed fat
Ingestion of 8 g of oolong tea per day for 6 weeks is proven to cause significant weight loss outcomes. 77% of the volunteers lost more than 1 kg weight including 22% who lost more than 3 kg.
Decrease in body fat, waist circumference and blood lipid levels was observed. Inhibition of pancreatic lipase and improved lipid metabolism by oolong tea led to these results.
Another study reported that caffeine enhanced the effect of oolong tea on weight loss and fatty liver by regulating noradrenaline-induced lipolysis. Noradrenaline is a hormone which when activated stimulates breakdown of fats.
Oolong tea infused with green tea extract rich in catechins reduces body weight, body fat, waist circumference and subcutaneous fat (fat found around thighs and buttock).
The combination also improves antioxidant status.
Methylated catechins present in oolong tea show high antiobesity effect by preventing fat production and inhibiting development of fat cells.
Oolong tea is also found to increase adiponectin levels (a protein that regulates glucose levels and stimulates breakdown of fats) in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
What does it mean? Oolong tea in combination with caffeine or enriched with green tea catechins stimulates weight loss.
3. It accelerates metabolism
Oolong tea is considered as a thermogenic agent. In other words it increases metabolic rate supporting faster conversion of food into energy and oxidation of fats. Oolong tea promotes weight loss by increasing metabolism by 10-20%.
A study conducted in Beltsville, USA demonstrated that oolong tea increases metabolism and fat oxidation in obese men. Consumption of oolong tea rich in catechins resulted in 2.9% greater energy expenditure than that caused by water consumption. Also fat oxidation was 12% higher in tea group.
Decaffeinated extracts of oolong tea induce weight loss, promote energy expenditure and reduce inflammation.
Oolong tea causes higher energy expenditure than green tea as it has higher concentration of polyphenols (natural compounds found in tea which impart flavour and are strong antioxidants).
It can boost metabolism up to 2 hours after consumption. These polyphenols also improve lipid metabolism which helps in weight loss.
What does it mean? Oolong tea helps in burning calories by promoting metabolism rate.
4. It regulates blood sugar and acts an anti-diabetic agent
Lowered blood sugar levels after a meal are said to enhance satiety and reduce appetite.
Oolong tea in combination with anti diabetic drugs is proven to control blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes patients.
Oolong tea modulates enzymes involved in glucose breakdown and it is said that this property can be used in treating diabetes.
Interestingly another study designed to evaluate oolong tea’s effect on blood sugar control in non diabetic individuals reported that oolong tea alone or that enriched with catechins or polyphenols did not affect glucose metabolism in healthy individuals.
However this study is with respect to healthy individuals whose glucose levels are generally normal. In diabetic patients oolong tea definitely regulates blood glucose levels positively.
What does it mean? As an anti-diabetic agent, oolong tea improves insulin and glucose levels which in turn promote glucose uptake and utilisation.
5. It regulates digestion preventing absorption of fattening agents
Oolong tea prevents absorption of fats and carbohydrates from diet. Polyphenol enriched oolong tea consumption reduces absorption of fats from food during digestion and instead promotes its excretion from the body.
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) present in green tea and also found in oolong tea and its related compounds, inhibits the activity of alpha amylase and alpha glucosidase(enzymes involved in glucose metabolism). ECGC and methylated ECGC present in oolong tea improve antioxidant activity and protect the liver.
What it means?Oolong tea helps fight obesity by improving digestion and preventing absorption of fats and carbohydrates from food.
Comparing Oolong tea’s anti-obesity action with other tea types
Most research studies are focussed on green tea and its effect on various disorders. So now researchers are focussing on other types of tea that are part of the family.
Investigation reveals that oolong tea suppresses fat accumulation and decreases fat deposit by activating AMPK (enzyme that regulates cell energy and supports breakdown of fats). Its activity is comparable to that of black tea and pu-erh tea.
Another study reveals that oolong tea has the highest potential of suppressing body weight gain in comparison to other tea types. Oolong tea can effectively reduce blood lipid levels compared to other tea varieties but when it comes to lowering total cholesterol levels, green tea is better than oolong tea.
What it means? Oolong tea is better than other most other tea types in preventing fat deposition in the body.
How much oolong tea to consume for weight loss?
2 cups of oolong tea daily half an hour to one hour before your exercise routine or after meals can deliver a number of benefits.
1.5 teaspoon of tea leaves in 8 oz of boiling water and steeping time of 3 minutes is also considered good.
Oolong tea flavoured with essences of fruits and flowers is also available. You can also steep a tablespoon of oolong tea with 1 teaspoon of green tea and drink it twice a day to enhance weight loss results.
Oolong tea is a safe beverage to be consumed on regular basis, but the only thing to be kept in mind is the caffeine content. Therefore limit your consumption to 2-3 cups of oolong tea per day as excess caffeine can lead to caffeine poisoning.
Oolong tea contains naturally occurring fluorides which are good for oral health. If consumed in excess, this fluoride content can affect bone health. In case of pregnancy and lactation avoid consuming oolong tea.
Oolong tea definitely helps with weight loss by boosting metabolism and preventing fat deposition. It is a treasure chest filled with various health benefits that one should not miss out on.
Besides it tastes good without addition of sweeteners or milk, so why not give it a try!? Oh and one thing I forgot to mention previously, oolong tea is a good anti-aging agent and contributes to healthy hair and skin. 🙂
Aren’t these reasons tempting enough to try oolong tea irrespective of your weight loss goal?