EGCG: Green Tea's Hidden Weapon!
Despite the refusal of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow a health claim for green tea on labels, many people still believe that drinking green tea is a worthwhile exercise. Although more evidence is needed to justify a strong statement about green tea's ability to lower the risk of cancer, it is not a bad idea to include this beverage in a healthful, mostly plant-based diet.
Although black tea is the most frequently consumed tea in the U.S., green tea contains far higher levels of the phytochemical EGCG. Both oolong and black teas, including the common orange pekoe, lose some of their EGCG as they are processed. However, green tea leaves are steamed or baked before they can oxidize, so their EGCG levels remain high.
Since it is a powerful antioxidant, EGCG may help prevent both heart disease and cancer. It helps to stabilize highly reactive molecules known as free radicals that can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease, or alter the DNA in our genes, promoting cancerous changes. In addition, EGCG may protect against cancer development by increasing the self-destruction of cancer cells and by affecting enzymes and the signals between cells, slowing the growth and multiplication of cancer cells.
But while the evidence of EGCG's ability to deter cancer is quite strong in laboratory studies, population studies show much less consistent benefits. The inconsistent population evidence is one of the primary reasons that the FDA recently refused to approve a health claim on the labels of products with green tea that would link its consumption with lower cancer risk. In the FDA's view, the effectiveness of foods in laboratory studies is merely background material. Consistent evidence among populations is key to supporting health claims. However, researchers point out that the laboratory studies, which are overwhelmingly positive about the health effects of EGCG, are necessary to explain the results of population studies. Without them, we would not know what EGCG is or what it can do.
Furthermore, inconsistent results from population studies do not mean that there is no benefit to drinking green tea. Human studies show that the antioxidant capacity of the blood does increase about an hour after drinking green tea. Other studies show that markers of DNA damage decrease after drinking even black tea or decaf green tea, both of which contain less EGCG than regular green tea.
The differences in health impact that are seen among green tea drinkers in population studies may mean that green tea benefits some people more than others. Genetic variations, varying exposures to risk-producing substances like tobacco, or different diets could all help explain the differences seen in these studies. One study, for example, suggests that tea and soy may produce contrary benefits. Eating one of these foods may decrease the potential benefits from the other one.
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Green Tea Benefits Trivia:
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EGCG or epigallocatechin gallate is the most abundant antioxidant catechin in green tea. It is found in high amounts in this beverage as the green tea leaves undergo very minimal amounts of oxidation. EGCG in green tea has exceptional anti-inflammatory and immune strengthening properties. Read more about EGCG here.
Green tea is often classified as one of the so-called 'superfoods' due to its wealth of health-boosting components that may help fight a wide array of ailments and diseases. 'Superfood' is the term used to describe foods with high antioxidant and phytonutrient content. Go here to find a list of 'superfoods'.
Vitamin C is said to help the body absorb more of the antioxidant content of green tea. New studies have shown that taking citrus juices, like those of oranges and lemons, along with green tea enable more of the tea's antioxidants to remain after the digestion process is completed. Read more about Vitamin C here.
Antioxidants in green tea help fight the ravages of free radicals that are seen as the source of many of today's debilitating diseases. Did you know that aside from the catechins that are so abundant in green tea, there are many other types of antioxidants? Discover them all here.
Green tea is said to help in lowering calories and fighting fat. This seeming ability to aid in weight loss is attributed to the polyphenols found in the beverage. Read more about green tea's fat-fighting abilities here.
The Japanese and the people from the Meditteranean have some of the world's longest life expectancy rates. And while the Japanese look to green tea as their favorite after-meal drink, the Mediterranean peoples love to have red wine after their meals. Green tea and red wine? Could any two beverages be any more different? Discover what makes red wine a healthy drink when taken in moderation here.
The quality of the water used to brew the tea is very important. It is believed that the water used must be free of contaminants and contain enough oxygen to enhance the natural flavor of the tea. Teas made with pure water yield a crisp flavor and a clear brew that is aesthetically pleasant. Learn more about the health benefits of water here.
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