Score Another Point for Tea!
Published On September 7, 2012
By Bryce Wylde
Green Tea Boosts Memory
You already knew that green tea is good for you. But now a new study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research suggests there's yet another reason why you should include green tea as part of a healthy diet: a better memory.
Green tea is produced by heating, rolling and drying the fresh leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. But unlike black tea, which is produced from the same plant, green tea is not fermented, which helps preserve the levels of catechin, the main antioxidant in tea.
The latest research out of China, has found green tea improves memory and spatial learning by increasing the generation of brain cells.
Study leader Professor Yun Bai from the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China, says "There has been plenty of scientific attention on its use in helping prevent cardiovascular diseases, but now there is emerging evidence that its chemical properties may impact cellular mechanisms in the brain.”
Specifically, the research team focussed on the chemical epigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG), which is found in green tea, and its effect on the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for short and long-term memory.
In case you wonder where the hippocampus is inside your brain or what it looks like, watch this YouTube clip:
Bai says, "We proposed that EGCG can improve cognitive function by impacting the generation of neuron cells, a process known as neurogenesis." He says they found that EGCG boosts production of the neural progenitor cells which are able to adapt into various types of cells, similar to stem cells.
The team then used laboratory mice, some given ECGC and some that didn't get any, to discover if the increased cell production had any effect on memory or spatial learning and the results showed that the group that received the chemical had better object recognition and spatial memory.
Bai says the study results "help us to understand the potential for EGCG, and green tea which contains it, to help combat degenerative diseases and memory loss."
Green Tea's multiple virtues
Green tea has also already been known to be beneficial for a number of positive health effects. Studies have shown that it is heart-healthy because the levels of catechins in Green Tea, help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Catechins are also believed to play a key role in diseases like breast, colon, prostate and esophegeal cancers. The antioxidants in green tea are believed to help fight off the flu, improve symptoms of depression, makes skin look younger by reducing wrinkles, and by helping to protect against sun damage.
The EGCG has already been proven to aid in weight loss and benefit diabetics because it is able to regulate blood sugar levels after eating.
Many of the studies on the benefits of Catechins are conducted using green tea extract. What isn't clear though is whether catechins, when drunk as tea, are able to survive the digestive process. One way to boost the antioxidant levels in green tea are to drink it with a twist of lemon.
A recent study discovered that citrus juices significantly increased catechin levels in lab tests, as did ascorbic acid, soymilk, rice milk, and cow’s milk. The researchers say, “Beverages prepared with ascorbic acid contents as low as 50% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) would likely provide effective protection.” Adding different creamers to green tea also increased the available catechin levels from less than 20% to as much as 69%. Citrus juices had the strongest benefit though, resulting in the highest levels of catechin recovery.
Green tea is generally free of side effects, although people who consume several cups of green tea per day, reported insomnia, anxiety, and other symptoms resulting from the caffeine content.