In recent years we have all learned some basic things about green tea. Obviously, we know it is a powerful healing substance that is chock full of antioxidants. We know it is effective in dealing with free radicals – those nasty free-wheeling items our bodies produce in response to environmental agents like cigarette smoke and toxins in our environment. Free radicals are a cause of aging, heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants are a lot like Pac Man, they gobble free radicals up, cleaning up the interior environment of our bodies by neutralizing free radicals and repairing the damage done by them.
What are flavonoids?
Green tea antioxidants are known as polyphenols, a group of chemical substances found in plants and characterized by the presence of more than one building block per molecule (hence the prefix “poly”); and flavonoids, which are commonly known for their antioxidant activity in vitro. Flavonoids have antioxidant abilities that exceed vitamins C and E and their medicinal properties are of interest in the prevention of cancers and cardiovascular diseases. It is estimated that green tea antioxidants are as much as 25 to 100 times more active than vitamin C and more readily available in green tea than in any other food source.
How Do You Say That?
The types of polyphenols in green tea are flavonoids called catechins. There are four types of catechins in green tea; epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechin, and apigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is the most researched and powerful of the antioxidants found in green tea. The highest concentration of EGCG is said to be found in Matcha green tea, the traditional green tea used in Japanese tea ceremonies.
Catechins – The Secret Substance
What makes the antioxidants in green tea unique is that they appear to affect cancer in any stage of the disease, from preventing cancer cells from forming to killing active cells. There are studies that show EGCG suppresses cancerous tumors and green tea antioxidants slow the progress of other cancers, such as breast, prostate, bladder, pancreas and ovaries.
Cancer is not the only place green tea antioxidants provide benefits. An increase in cognitive skills and learning ability in people and animals was confirmed in studies as well. Diabetes sufferers benefit through the regulation of glucose levels. Other areas that green tea helps to regulate include the lowering of total cholesterol and raising HDL (good cholesterol). To top it all off, the antioxidants in green tea appear to have antimicrobial properties, which means they are capable of destroying or inhibiting the growth of disease-causing microorganisms.