Green Tea And Iron: A Bad Combination

Green tea has many excellent health benefits. It inhibits inflammation, fights cancer, makes you fit, and keeps you young. But it can only do that if you follow certain rules when drinking green tea. For example, it should never be drunk with an iron-rich meal. Because then the strong antioxidants from green tea can no longer be effective – and the iron cannot be used by the body either.

Green tea is healthy – but not with iron!

Green tea is known for its many health benefits. It is considered a powerful antioxidant with anti-cancer effects. It also inhibits inflammation and is therefore used in chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. However, research shows that green tea’s powerful antioxidant potential is noticeably weakened when consumed with a meal of iron-rich foods.

Green tea has an antioxidant effect – but not in the presence of iron

“If you drink green tea with or after an iron-rich meal, the active ingredients in the tea attach themselves to the iron,” explains Matam Vijay-Kumar, assistant professor of nutrition at Penn State University in Pennsylvania/USA. “If this happens, you lose green tea’s antioxidant potential. So if you want to benefit from green tea’s top-class antioxidants, you should definitely not drink it before, with, or after iron-rich meals.

Meat and green leafy vegetables such as B. spinach or kale. Of course, iron supplements shouldn’t be washed down with green tea either.

Green tea inhibits inflammation—but not in the presence of iron

Green tea typically reduces chronic inflammation in the following ways: The antioxidant EGCG (epigallocatechin) it contains inhibits myeloperoxidase, an enzyme that promotes inflammation and is secreted by white blood cells in inflammatory diseases.

In the case of chronic intestinal inflammation, the intake of green tea means that the flare-ups are no longer as pronounced or occur less frequently. In the presence of iron, however, green tea loses this ability to inhibit myeloperoxidase – and can no longer reduce inflammation.

Green tea and iron: If both remain ineffective

However, it is often the case that patients with chronic intestinal inflammation suffer from a mineral deficiency. Your intestines react again and again with bloody diarrhea so that they simply cannot absorb many minerals and many minerals are excreted unused. It is not uncommon for these patients to receive iron supplements from the doctor to prevent or treat anemia (low blood count).

If green tea is part of the therapy, but iron preparations are just as important, then the effects of both cancel each other out and one wonders why the anemia persists and at the same time, one does not notice any of the supposedly positive properties of green tea. Of course, this dilemma does not only affect patients but everyone who drinks green tea and also likes to eat it with their meals.

Green tea and iron need to keep their distance

So it’s not just about what you eat, but also when you eat it and, most importantly, in combination with what other foods you eat or drink it. It is therefore best to drink green tea two to three hours apart from taking iron supplements and also two to three hours apart from meals.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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