Can We Drink Green Tea After Dinner? Here’s What Science Says
Image Credit: Freepik

Many health-conscious people enjoy green tea for its acclaimed benefits, from boosting metabolism to increasing antioxidant levels. Green tea contains beneficial compounds like polyphenols and catechins, most notably a powerful antioxidant called EGCG. Research indicates this superfood may help prevent diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. 

With all these potential benefits, it's no wonder green tea has exploded in popularity. But when's the best time to drink it? Can one enjoy a steaming cup after dinner, or is it better first thing in the morning? There's much debate around when to schedule your daily cuppa. Let's examine whether there are any advantages or drawbacks to drinking green tea in the evening versus earlier in the day. 

When to Drink Green Tea? 

Green tea can be enjoyed at any time of day, but there are some best practices to follow for optimal health benefits. Whether you're rising with the sun, powering through the afternoon, or winding down in the evening, green tea can be an invigorating yet soothing companion. The catechins and caffeine provide a gentle morning energizer to start your day off right. Come mid-afternoon, green tea lifts you up again with just enough stimulation to conquer the post-lunch slump, while L-theanine promotes focus and calm. As bedtime draws near, the caffeine may keep night owls up, but green tea's relaxing properties can also pave the way for sound sleep in caffeine-sensitive sippers. Green tea nurtures your body's natural rhythms, giving you a boost when you need it and helping you relax when it's time to rest. 

The Case for Drinking Green Tea After Dinner 

Green tea consumed after dinner may provide several potential health benefits: 

Potential weight loss benefits 

According to National Library of Medicine Green tea contains caffeine and catechins like EGCG that can boost metabolism and fat burning. Research shows that drinking green tea after a meal may help with weight loss by promoting fat oxidation. Catechins may also inhibit enzymes involved in fat storage. Consuming green tea at night may support weight management.  

Image Credit: Freepik

May support digestion 

Green tea can act as a digestive aid after eating. Compounds in green tea like catechins may have anti-inflammatory effects that support digestive health. The warm temperature of tea can also relax the stomach after a large meal. This may relieve bloating or heaviness. 

Antioxidant boost 

Green tea is packed with antioxidants like flavonoids and polyphenols. Drinking green tea after dinner floods the body with these compounds right when they are needed most. The antioxidants can mop up free radicals generated during the digestive process to reduce oxidative stress. This antioxidant boost supports overall health. 

Potential Downsides for Consuming Green Tea After Dinner 

Green tea does contain some caffeine and tannins that could negatively impact sleep and iron absorption if consumed too late at night or on an empty stomach.  

As per National Library of Medicine the caffeine content in green tea is much lower than black tea or coffee, but it still contains around 25-50 mg of caffeine per 1 cup depending on the type and brewing method. Consuming caffeine too close to bedtime can disrupt sleep onset and quality. Those sensitive to caffeine may want to avoid green tea after 2pm or switch to a decaffeinated variety at night. 

Additionally, the tannins in green tea can interfere with non-heme iron absorption if consuming green tea with or directly after iron-rich foods. Iron from plant sources (non-heme iron) is already less bioavailable than iron from animal products (heme iron). The tannins can bind to the non-heme iron and make it even harder to absorb, potentially leading to iron deficiency over time if consuming green tea with meals on a regular basis. Having green tea 1-2 hours before or after meals high in non-heme iron can help mitigate this effect. 

Image Credit: Freepik

Tips for Drinking Green Tea at Night 

Green tea does contain some caffeine, so to avoid disrupting sleep, follow these tips: 

- Drink early, at least two hours before bed. This gives enough time for the caffeine levels to start dropping before bedtime. 

- Choose lower caffeine varieties of green tea like Dragon Well or houjicha. They have less caffeine than Sencha or matcha. 

- Avoid adding any sugar to the tea in the evening. Sugar can spike energy levels and make it harder to fall asleep. 

- Stay hydrated by drinking a full glass of water before bedtime. The small diuretic effect of caffeine can be countered by proper hydration. 

Also Read:

Optimising Absorption 

Green tea contains antioxidants and nutrients that provide health benefits, so it's important to optimize absorption. Here are some tips: 

- Drink green tea with lemon, mint, ginger or other herbs. The vitamin C in lemon helps increase iron absorption from the tea. Mint, ginger and other herbs can also promote absorption. 

- Pair green tea with iron-rich foods like spinach, eggs, meat and seafood. The polyphenols in green tea can inhibit iron absorption on their own but taking it with iron-rich foods counteracts this effect. 

- Avoid drinking green tea with dairy products like milk, yogurt or cheese. The calcium binds with the tea's compounds, reducing absorption. 

- Use hot, but not boiling water to brew green tea. Water that is too hot can destroy the catechins and polyphenols. Brew for 2-3 minutes to fully extract nutrients and antioxidants. 

- Drink green tea between meals for optimal nutrient absorption, rather than with meals.  

- Choose a high-quality green tea and store it properly in an airtight container away from light and moisture. This preserves the tea's freshness and nutrient content. 

Final Outlook 

Drinking green tea after dinner can offer several benefits, but also has some potential downsides to consider. On the pro side, green tea contains antioxidants and compounds that may aid digestion, boost metabolism, and facilitate relaxation at night. The caffeine content is relatively low compared to other teas and coffee, so it likely won't lead to sleep disruptions. However, the caffeine content, though low, could still potentially affect sleep quality for some people sensitive to stimulants at night. As per the study by National Library of Medicine polyphenols and tannins in green tea may also inhibit iron absorption if consumed too close to iron-rich foods at dinner. Overall, having a cup of green tea after dinner in moderation is likely fine for most people. To optimize health benefits and sleep quality, it's ideal to finish dinner and green tea 2-3 hours before bedtime. Those especially sensitive to caffeine may want to consume earlier or for a decaf or herbal tea closer to bedtime instead.