Green Tea for Heart and Brain Health
High green tea contain polyphenol antioxidants recognized for their disease prevention and anti-aging properties.
Polyphenols can account for up to 30% of the dry leaf weight of green tea. Within the group of polyphenols are flavonoids, which contain catechins.
And 1 of the most powerful catechins is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), found in green tea.
EGCG has been shown to positively impact a number of illnesses and conditions, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Past research has shown long-term tea intake can improve your blood pressure readings.
One systematic review of 25 randomized controlled trials found those who regularly drank either green or black tea for 12 weeks had an average of 2.6 mm Hg lower systolic blood pressure and 2.2 mm Hg lower diastolic pressure compared to those who did not drink tea.
Green tea provided the best results, followed by black tea.
According to the data this reduction “would be expected to reduce stroke risk by 8%, coronary artery disease mortality by 5% and all-cause mortality by 4% at a population level … These are profound effects and must be considered seriously in terms of the potential for dietary modification to modulate the risk of CVD [cardiovascular disease].”
While unable to determine exactly how much tea you need to drink to receive these benefits, a number of previous studies have suggested the ideal amount lies around 3-4 cups of tea per day.
For example: 1 Y 2007 study found “clear evidence” showing that 3 or more cups of tea, in this case black tea reduced the risk of heart disease.
Similarly, drinking 3-4 cups of green tea daily has been shown to promote heart and cardiovascular health, and to aid in the prevention of arteriosclerosis, cerebral thrombus, heart attack and stroke, courtesy of its ability to relax blood vessels, improve blood flow and protect against blood clots.
More recent research supports these earlier findings.
Researchers at the University of Leeds and Lancaster University say the EGCG in green tea can help prevent heart disease by dissolving arterial plaque.
Other recent research has found this compound also has the ability to inhibit amyloid beta plaque formation in the brain, associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
According to these findings, EGCG actually alters the structure of amyloid fibrils formed by apolipoprotein A-1 (apoA-I) — the main protein component of high-density lipoprotein shown to accumulate in atherosclerotic plaques — when heparin (a naturally occurring anticoagulant produced by certain cells) is present.
As reported by New Atlas:
“[ApoA-I] is fundamental to the development of amyloid deposits seen in both Alzheimer’s and atherosclerosis. The hypothesis in this new study is that EGCG can effectively alter the form of these amyloid fibrils, making them less toxic.
‘The health benefits of green tea have been widely promoted and it has been known for some time that EGCG can alter the structures of amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease,’ says one of the researchers on the project, David Middleton. ‘Our results show that this intriguing compound might also be effective against the types of plaques which can cause heart attacks and strokes.’”
Unfortunately, the EGCG concentrations required to achieve the results found in this study are so high, you couldn’t possibly get that amount from drinking green tea alone. However, the researchers believe the compound could eventually be used to make new drugs treatments. In light of such plans, it’s worth remembering that too much of a good thing can be problematic. As noted in a scientific review published in 2010:11
“… [T]here is emerging evidence that high doses of tea polyphenols may have adverse side effects. Given that the results of scientific studies on dietary components, including tea polyphenols, are often translated into dietary supplements, understanding the potential toxicities of the tea polyphenols is critical to understanding their potential usefulness …”
Matcha Green Tea is a Super Tea Choice
My favorite is Matcha green tea. It has a wonderful flavor and superior nutrient content, as it has not been damaged through processing. It contains the entire ground tea leaf, and can contain over 100X the EGCG provided from regular brewed green tea.
- Bolsters our immune system
- Providing us with a calming effect and relief from occasional stress
- Promoting healthy metabolism
- Help maintain optimal blood sugar levels
- Supports normal cholesterol levels
The best Matcha green tea comes from Japan and is steamed rather than roasted or pan-fried. As a result, Matcha green tea retains all the nutrient-rich value possible from the tea leaf. The tea leaves are ground into powder, which you stir directly into hot water, resulting in a bright green beverage.
A cold version option that is perfect for Summer is to make Matcha lemonade.
Simply dissolve the powder in hot water; chill, then add lemon or lime juice. A small amount of stevia can be added for sweetness.
Serve with ice.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively