Green tea is loaded with antioxidants and offers many health benefits. Also, none of the studies have observed the necessity of avoiding green tea during pregnancy. However, it is natural to wonder how safe is green tea when you are pregnant? Is there any rule of thumb associated with drinking green tea during pregnancy? Let’s try to find out.
What Is Green Tea?
Green tea is made from unfermented leaves of the tea plant. Young leaves are used to make green tea. Unlike normal tea leaves, leaves chosen to make green tea do not undergo the process of oxidation. Instead, as a part of the drying process, green tea leaves are steamed or pan fried.
Therefore, green tea and black tea are made from the same tea plant. They use different leaves and different processing systems, thereby giving rise to different types of tea. Many people mistake green tea for herbal tea. But as you see, green tea is not herbal tea.
Green tea also contains less caffeine when compared to its counterparts like coffee and black tea. The caffeine intake should be limited during pregnancy as it can adversely affect the normal progression of pregnancy and the health of the fetus. In this aspect, green tea can be considered a safe beverage during pregnancy.
The amount of caffeine in green tea is determined by how you brew it. In any case it varies between 25 to 45 mg per medium cup.
Is Drinking Green Tea Safe During Pregnancy
Suppose you are a green tea fan, and now you are pregnant so wondering if it is safe. There is no need to abstain from green tea during pregnancy. If you follow the general thumb rule during pregnancy – never cross moderation intake– drinking green tea during pregnancy is perfectly safe.
Two medium cups of green tea per day can act as a fine stimulant during pregnancy. Adding more cups is not safe during pregnancy as the caffeine intake increases with each cup. And caffeine is not just your tea and coffee, but a host of other foods as well. However, there is no harm in enjoying a cup or two of green tea during pregnancy.
Related Reading: What Teas Are Safe To Drink While Pregnant?
Can Green Tea Cause Miscarriage?
“Can Lipton green tea cause miscarriage” is a question that has arisen in many parenting forums.
The first trimester of pregnancy is the most critical and sensitive of the three trimesters. During this period of time, if the fetus is exposed to certain chemicals, it can end up in spontaneous abortion. Caffeine, in high doses, can potentially cause miscarriage.
This is because the maternal caffeine intake paves the way for caffeine entering the fetus body. The process of eliminating caffeine from the fetus’ body will be extremely slow. This can create several critical health issues in the fetus. Remember, during this phase, the baby’s organs and organ system will be in the forming stage.
If the caffeine level remains high in mothers for a longer time, it can set off some hormonal changes and adversely affect the fetus’s blood flow. This can set off miscarriage.
Studies have proven that increased daily consumption of caffeine during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage. It is found that 200 mg or more of caffeine per day double the risk of miscarriage. Thus, the only ingredient in green tea that can potentially cause miscarriage is caffeine.
However, as already mentioned, the amount of caffeine in green tea is too less to cause any harmful effects like a miscarriage. You have to drink at least six or more cups of green tea to increase the risk of miscarriage.
Green Tea And Folic Acid Absorption
Another important concern with drinking green tea during pregnancy is the absorption of folic acid.
Studies have it that green tea consumption during pregnancy can impede folic acid absorption. Green tea contains chemical compounds called catechins that can potentially block the absorption of folic acid.
Folic acid is a vital nutrient in preventing birth defects and for the proper development of the baby. Folic acid is crucial in the development of the brain and spinal cord of the baby. A pregnant woman is estimated to consume around 800mcg of folate every day. to ensure this, more often, it is prescribed as supplements.
It is very important the developing fetus should receive an adequate amount of this nutrient, especially during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. Or else, it increases the risk of NTB (Neural tube defects) such as Spina bifida in the fetus.
Consuming a large amount of green tea impedes folate absorption from the mother’s food and supplements. The lesser the folate consumption lesser will be the folic acid reaches the baby via the placenta.
Therefore, over consumption of green tea is associated with an increased risk of neural tube defects. The risk of NTD increases if a mother-to -be to drinks more than three cups of green tea per day.
The neural tube closes in parts within the first 45 days of pregnancy. This time is very crucial to prevent NTD. Therefore, it is better to limit or avoid the consumption of green tea during this period.
Benefits of green tea during pregnancy
In spite of the risks associated with the overconsumption of green tea, there are certain benefits associated with drinking green tea during pregnancy. However, to avail of this, stick on to a maximum of two cups of green tea per day.
Here are some of the health benefits if you drink green tea during pregnancy:
1. Improves immunity
Green tea contains powerful polyphenols-antioxidants in significant amount. They help to fight off the free radicals and reduce the risk of infections. Pregnancy is the time the immunity of the mother is not up to mark. This makes her prone to various infections. A cup of green tea might help to fight off common infections during pregnancy.
2. Helps to get rid of pregnancy acne
Due to the surge of pregnancy hormones, many mothers experience pregnancy skin problems such as breakouts. Research has shown the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties of green tea are very beneficial to get rid of pregnancy acne. Both oral and topical use of green tea gives the best results in getting rid of acne.
3. Enhances the health of teeth and gums
Teeth and gums of expecting women require special care. During pregnancy, women are found to be more susceptible to oral issues like gingivitis, cavities, etc. Green tea is rich in antioxidant catechins and can potentially improve your oral health.
When you drink green tea during pregnancy, catechins in green tea fight off the microbes in the mouth that create gum and dental issues.
4. Helps to regulate blood pressure
Regulating blood pressure is very important during pregnancy. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory property of green tea is very beneficial in regulating blood pressure during pregnancy.
Drinking green tea reduces the inflammations in the heart and blood vessels. This enhances the blood flow. Therefore, drinking green tea helps to regulate blood pressure to a certain extent.
5. Helps with gestational diabetes
Green tea helps to manage blood sugar levels by improving metabolism. Catechins, the antioxidants in green tea, impede the absorption of carbohydrates. Thus green tea helps to regulate the blood sugar level. Therefore, green tea can be beneficial for expecting mothers who are experiencing gestational diabetes
6. Controls mood swings
Green tea contains a compound called Theanine. This amino acid has a relaxing property. Thus, drinking a cup of green tea may alleviate mood swings, which is very common during pregnancy.
Things To Remember While Choosing Green Tea During Pregnancy
- As the caffeine intake should be restricted during pregnancy, which is 200 mg per day, limit the green tea consumption to one to two cups per day
- Never drink green tea along with your lunch. Drinking green tea with your meal can bring about two issues-One, it dilutes the gastric juices, thereby, bringing about indigestion issues. Secondly, green tea impedes the body from absorbing iron from the food. If you make it a practice of drinking green tea with the meal, it can bring about iron deficiency and anemia
- Drink green tea during pregnancy two hours before or after the meals
- Refrain from drinking green tea on an empty stomach during pregnancy. Tannin in green tea can stimulate the stomach to produce more acid. Therefore, if you drink it in the morning on your empty stomach, it can cause acid reflux. Acid reflux during pregnancy brings about annoying issues like bloating, nausea and vomiting. It can even cause abdominal cramps
- Limit the intake of green tea when you get into your third trimester. This is because as the pregnancy advances, the woman’s body’s ability to break down the caffeine in green tea eventually declines. Therefore, drinking green tea can end up in heartburn and insufficient sleep
- Over-consumption of green tea during pregnancy can cause dehydration. This is because caffeine has a strong diuretic property – increased urination
Keep to a limit of 200mg of caffeine a day, which is about three or four cups of green tea. This 200mg perimeter involve all sources of caffeine like coffee, normal tea, chocolates, cola, etc. in your daily amount.
If you are insistent on not neglecting your love for green tea, you simply have to take a few precautions. Make sure you limit your consumption of green tea to less than 3 cups a day. If you are a heavy tea drinker, take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid daily. This will reduce the risk of NTD.
Green Tea Extract, or GTE, is a capsule that contains green tea in its highest concentrated form. This form can either be liquid or powdered inside the capsule. Just as strongly brewed green tea is not recommended during pregnancy because of the high caffeine content, GTE is also not recommended as it, too, contains a lot of caffeine.
Other than caffeine, other components are also present in GTE in their highly concentrated form. This makes GTE dangerous during pregnancy and able to cause many side effects. So, it is in both mother and unborn baby’s best interest to stay away from GTE.
It is safe to drink decaf green tea when pregnant, but it is also still best to just drink a couple of cups per day.
If you have consumed caffeine for a long time, it can be difficult to switch to decaf. Suddenly avoiding caffeine may cause headaches, lethargy, and even mood swings. So, make sure the switch is gradual, as that will help reduce these symptoms.