About catechins and the several benefits of green tea!

Second to water, green tea is the second consumed beverage in the whole world. It has been applied medicinally for many centuries in China as well as in India. Why? It is probably for the main reason that green tea contains catechins, which are flavonoids phytochemical compounds that appear to be responsible for so many beneficial health effects.

Catechins, as it appear to be predominant in green tea, are also present in smaller amounts in black tea, grapes, wine, and chocolate. These compounds in green tea have basically four forms. Catechins include gallocatechin (GC), epigallocatechin (EGC), epicatechin (EC) and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).

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Numerous studies have shown that catechins in green tea have great antioxidant properties that catechins are often considered to as “tea flavonoids”. Due to such capabilities, catechins are thought to prevent cancer and heart disease. It is also reported that catechins have several protective effects which involve cardioprotrective, chemoprotective, and antimicrobial properties.

Although the black tea, which is the most well-known type of tea in the United States, has also flavonoids, it always seems to be an unfermented green tea that has the higher amount of catechins. In fact, green tea basically has about 27 percent content of catechins, while the oolong tea that is partially fermented having about 23 percent and fermented black tea at 4 percent catechins.

With the catechins content of the green tea that is believed to have a great antioxidant capabilities, many researchers then speculated that such compounds may give certain beneficial effects by shielding the body from the damaging effects of oxidative damage that are mainly caused by free radicals. For that, chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, accelerated aging, and suppressed immune function are mostly related to free radical induced oxidative damage that catechins have the power to heal or prevent from spreading.

Particularly, the form of tea catechin known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is recently being researched and studied for its potent role as a chemoprotective agent. Many findings have demonstrated that this form of catechins has the strong responsibility for suppressing the rapid development of tumors and also some inhibiting enzymes that have a strong power in spreading the cancer cells. This form is then believed as acquiring the distinct ability to combat cancer at all stages, from inhibiting growth of the tumors up to eradicating the tumor promoters, hindering the chemical carcinogens and stabilizing the enzymes that are involved in cell proliferation.

The antimicrobial properties of catechins is also attributed to the potency of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has currently been found out to repress the development of bacteria like the helicobacteria pylori, E. coli, and Staphylococcus aureus.

In general, catechins are thought to have anti-atherogenic properties, which decrease the cholesterol and triglycerides; reduces blood clotting; increases the immune function; increases the weight loss; and they are anti-cancer. However, there is still no clear evidence to support the claims for the benefits of catechins in humans since most of the studies are conducted with animals.

Today, the primary source of catechins – green tea – is now widely available in the form of dried or powdered extracts as dietary supplements. These products are mostly found in any type of health food stores and other outlets anywhere in the world.

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