Green Tea In Pregnancy: 6 Benefits And 3 Side Effects

check_icon Research-backed

Image: Shutterstock

IN THIS ARTICLE

Green tea is one of the most effective drinks that improve metabolism. But is it safe to have green tea in pregnancy? This post will help you answer this question. Green tea is a rich source of catechins and is processed with minimal oxidation compared to other teas (1). Catechins are substances that prevent your cells from completely absorbing the folic acid, as the presence of folic acid in the blood during pregnancy helps prevent neural tube defects. However, there is not much scientific evidence to give the green light to having green tea while pregnant. Therefore, it is advised to consult your doctor before consuming it. Read on to know more.

Is Green Tea Safe During Pregnancy?

Yes, it is safe to drink green tea in moderate amounts as there aren’t any clinical studies advising against its consumption during pregnancy.

Green tea is rich in nutrients, which means you can enjoy a cup or two every day.

However, you need to limit the quantity due to the epigallocatechin (EGCG) and caffeine content in it (1).

What Is Epigallocatechin In Green Tea?

EGCG is an active ingredient and a powerful antioxidant in green tea (2). As good as it may be, the compound can affect the body’s folate metabolism, which is important during pregnancy (3).

Folate is essential to prevent neural tube defects in the fetus. As green teas are the least processed among all the teas, they contain the highest concentrations of this component that may be potentially harmful during pregnancy.

How Much Caffeine Does Green Tea Have?

An 8oz (237ml) cup of green tea contains about 24mg to 45mg of caffeine, although the exact quantity depends on the brewing time and the brand of tea you choose (4). The same amount of coffee contains about 95mg to 200mg of caffeine, which means a typical cup of green tea contains less than half the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee (5).

Also, a cup of decaffeinated green tea contains around 12mg of caffeine or less (6).

How Much Green Tea Is Safe While Pregnant?

You can have up to 200mg of caffeine a day, which accounts for three to four cups of green tea in a day. However, you need to consider the caffeine you are consuming through other sources such as soft drinks, coffee, cola, chocolate, energy drinks and more (7). See to it that everything put together doesn’t go above 200mg a day.

What Are The Benefits Of Consuming Green Tea During Pregnancy?

Green tea offers more benefits than standard black teas, coffee, and other caffeinated drinks.

Here are some of its benefits.

1. Regulates blood pressure:

High blood pressure during pregnancy can lead to a complication called preeclampsia. Green tea is an excellent source of antioxidants, called polyphenols, which help in preventing cell damage in the body. Therefore, regular consumption of green tea can regulate blood pressure (8).

2. Keeps blood sugar under control:

Some of the compounds in green tea can modify the glucose levels by controlling the sugar levels in the body. Green tea is also beneficial if you have gestational diabetes (9). Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about your blood sugar levels or have gestational diabetes.

3. Protects against dental issues:

During pregnancy, you are prone to dental problems such as cavities, gingivitis, and more. The antioxidant catechin, present in green tea, has the power to destroy the bacteria and virus causing some of these issues (10).

4. Resolves skin problems:

Acne and breakouts are common due to the hormonal changes in pregnancy. The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties of green tea will help reduce these skin problems (11).

5. Alleviates mood swings:

Antioxidants in green tea increase the metabolism rate, which works in countering mood swings during pregnancy. Also, the amino acid called theanine in green tea provides relaxing effects, helping treat mood swings (12).

6. Boosts immune system:

Green tea stimulates the body’s ‘T cells’, which play a key role in improving immunity and fighting off common and mild illnesses (13).

Before you prepare a big cup of green tea and sit down to drink, you may want to know about its side effects, if any.

Are There Any Side Effects Of Drinking Green Tea While Pregnant?

Along with the benefits, green tea can also cause some side effects if consumed in excess.

  • Consumption of excessive amounts of green tea may affect the iron absorption ability of red blood cells (14). It can, therefore, lead to gestational anemia, hampering the oxygen and nutrient supply to the baby.
  • Green tea might inhibit absorption of folic acid, which is very important during pregnancy (15). Folic acid is essential during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to prevent neural birth defects in babies.
  • With a progressing pregnancy, the body’s ability to break down caffeine decreases. So excess green tea consumption might interfere with the sleep patterns and alertness, and also increases the risk of adverse effects in pregnancy (16).

Which Variety Of Green Tea Is Safe During Pregnancy – Organic, Decaf Or Matcha?

All three varieties of green tea can be safely consumed during pregnancy, although in limited quantities. Also, daily caffeine intake should not exceed 200mg a day.

  • Organic green tea is a certified tea that has been extracted from the plants grown using natural farming methods, without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Decaf green tea has relatively less caffeine content, compared to the standard green tea.
  • Matcha green tea is made from the finest green tea leaves that are rich in antioxidants. The stems and veins are removed and then ground to fine powder. You can have up to no more than one cup a day of this tea since it is more concentrated than regular green tea.

Picking the right tea is just the first step. Brewing it right and drinking it at the right time makes all the difference.

Tips For Drinking Green Tea While Pregnant

Here are a few things to remember while having green tea:

  • Do not drink on an empty stomach because green tea contains tannins that may cause acidity, further leading to nausea, constipation, and stomachache.
  • Do not have it along with meals as it may dilute the gastric juices and hampers the absorption of iron from food.
  • Maintain a gap of at least two hours between meals and green tea.
  • Do not have more than two cups of green tea a day.
  • Do not drink green tea before bedtime or late afternoon as it might affect your sleep.
  • Buy a properly packaged tea from a reputable brand or seller.
  • Use filtered water to make green tea.

Next, we answer a few common questions about green tea in pregnancy.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it safe to drink green tea early in pregnancy?

It is safe to consume small amounts of green tea in the initial stages of pregnancy. Overconsumption can inhibit your body’s ability to absorb folic acid, which can increase the risk of congenital disabilities in babies (17) .

2. Is it safe to consume green tea extracts while pregnant?

Consumption of green tea extracts during pregnancy is not recommended as it contains highly concentrated amounts of caffeine and other components. The extracts are available in the form of capsule or powder, with a level of caffeine that is too high and potentially harmful during pregnancy.

3. Can I drink green tea to burn fat during pregnancy?

It is not at all safe to have green tea for burning fat during pregnancy because not only does it affect your nutritional intake, but also denies your fetus the required energy for growth.

4. Is it okay to take green tea pills while pregnant?

Green tea pills are not safe during pregnancy as they speed up metabolism and may prevent the body from retaining nutrients. They are also highly concentrated, which may lead to excessive caffeine intake.

Having green tea in pregnancy is safe for you and your baby. Green tea is rich in catechins and nutrients and has various health benefits, such as regulating blood pressure, controlling blood sugar, boosting the immune system, and protecting against dental issues. Studies suggest pregnant women can have three to four cups of green tea in a day. However, it is best to consult your doctor before drinking green tea while pregnant, as overconsumption can pose risks due to its epigallocatechin and caffeine content.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Rafaela Macedo Mendes de OLIVEIRA; (2012); Quantification of catechins and caffeine from green tea (Camellia sinensis) infusions extract and ready-to-drink beverages.
    http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.1008.1267&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  2. Mary E. Waltner-Law et al.; (2002); Epigallocatechin Gallate a Constituent of Green Tea Represses Hepatic Glucose Production.
    https://www.jbc.org/article/S0021-9258(18)36718-8/fulltext
  3. Enma Navarro-Perán et al.; (2005); The antifolate activity of tea catechins.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15781612/
  4. Green Tea Facts and Evidences
    https://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1814&context=gs_rp
  5. Paolo Rinaudo; (2016); A Practical Guide to Fertility and IVF.
    https://rinaudolab.ucsf.edu/sites/g/files/tkssra2951/f/wysiwyg/Rinaudo_Fertility_Manual.pdf
  6. Tea and Cancer Prevention.
    https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/tea-fact-sheet
  7. Joris C. Verster and Juergen Koenig (2017) Caffeine intake and its sources: A review of national representative studies.
    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10408398.2016.1247252
  8. Xiaoli Peng et al.; (2014); Effect of green tea consumption on blood pressure: A meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4150247/
  9. Green Tea Lowers The Blood Sugar Level.
    https://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2014/08/01/green-tea-lowers-the-blood-sugar-level
  10. Baruch Narotzki et al.; (2011); Green tea: A promising natural product in oral health
    http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.919.5990&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  11. S K Katiyar et al.; (2000); Green tea and skin.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10926734/
  12. Ai Yoto et al.; (2012); Effects of L-theanine or caffeine intake on changes in blood pressure under physical and psychological stresses
  13. Mechanism discovered for health benefit of green tea, new approach to autoimmune disease
    https://today.oregonstate.edu/archives/2011/jun/mechanism-discovered-health-benefit-green-tea-new-approach-autoimmune-disease
  14. Ershad Sheibani; (2014); Effects Of Water Chemistry And Panning On Flavor Volatiles And Catechins In Teas (Camellia Sinensis).
    https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/71287/Sheibani_E_D_2014.pdf
  15. N Ceren Alemdaroglu et al.; (2008); Influence of green and black tea on folic acid pharmacokinetics in healthy volunteers: potential risk of diminished folic acid bioavailability.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18551467/
  16. Green Tea
    https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/green-tea
  17. Folic Acid.
    https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/1017.html

 

Was this information helpful?
thumbsupthumbsdown
The following two tabs change content below.

Rebecca Malachi

Rebecca is a pregnancy writer and editor with a passion for delivering research-based and engaging content in areas of fertility, pregnancy, birth, and post-pregnancy. She did her graduation in Biotechnology and Genetics from Loyola Academy, Osmania University and obtained a certification in ‘Nutrition and Lifestyle in Pregnancy’ from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU). She has been into health and... more

Claudia Wilson

(MS, RDN, CSSD, CSCS)
Claudia Wilson is a registered dietitian/ nutritionist, a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Nutrition (CSSD), and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). She founded ALL of NUTRITION and authored ONE-TWO PUNCH. She holds a BS in Public Health and an MS in Nutrition. Claudia spent 10 years as sports nutritionist for the University of Utah Athletic Department and in... more

LATEST ARTICLES