Green tea: my #1 bone-building super food

Special note:  This summer I’m featuring some of the most popular reader blogs.  This blog on green tea generated a lot of good discussion!

Many of my blogs focus on food. One reason may be that there are so many good things to eat —almond butter is a current favorite. But more important, we’re constantly learning so much about the powerful bone-building effects of food.

Making good nutritional choices is one of the simplest and most immediate ways to take action for strengthening bone. So expect a few more blogs about food with a focus on the “super foods” that you should think about adding to your meals and snacks.

Start with green tea — which makes an excellent substitute for bone-depleting morning coffee.

Green tea is full of antioxidant compounds and multiple studies suggest it protects against bone loss and osteoporosis. Specifically, drinking green tea appears to stimulate mineralization to generate bone formation, while at the same time inhibiting the formation of cells that remove bone tissue. And there are literally hundreds of studies that connect green tea to improved health in addition to its bone-building benefits.

Here are some tips to get the best cup of green tea:

• Use a teapot rather than a tea ball. Green tea needs room to expand as it steeps.

• Take care with water temperature. I suggest heating water to almost boiling (about 180 degrees). If the water is too hot, the leaves will cook the tea and it will be too bitter. Warm your cup with hot water first so that the temperature of the brewing water won’t cool too quickly.

• Pay attention to water quality. If your water tastes bad, your tea will taste bad.

• Steep from 1-3 minutes. The smaller the leaf size, the more quickly the tea will infuse. However, if you steep the tea too long, the tea will again be too bitter. You can experiment a bit to find the taste that you like best.

• Store tea in a cool, dry place.

• For those who want to avoid caffeine (as I do), put the tea in the near boiling water for 30 seconds, pour off this water and then make the tea. This removes most of the caffeine.

A Chinese proverb says “better to be deprived of food for three days than tea for one.” I’m not going to suggest you skip meals, but I do recommend you make drinking green tea a priority for bone health!


Chen, Z., et al. 2003. Habitual tea consumption and risk of osteoporosis: A prospective study in the women’s health initiative observational cohort. Am. J. Epidemiol., 158 (8), 772–781. URL (accessed 11.11.2009).

Daniells, S. 2009. Green tea extracts linked to healthier bones: Study. URL: (accessed 11.10.2009).