Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Article # 129. Catechins & Foods High in Catechins
Catechins are a type of flavanoid found in certain kinds of tea, fruit, chocolate and wine. They are associated with a variety of health benefits, including the maintenance of cardiovascular health, the reduction of cancer risk and weight loss. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), present in green tea, is the catechin responsible for enhanced weight loss.
The varieties found in the leaves of the tea plant are also known as catechin polyphenols. They are part of molecular family called flavonoids, which are plant secondary metabolites. This measn they are not essential for the growth of plant, but are important for its good health.
Polyphenols are a group of antioxidants, compounds that fight damage to your cells and organs caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. Catechins are a subgroup of polyphenols further divided into five other classes, including: gallocatechin, or GC; epicatechin, or EC; epigallocatechin, or EGC; epicatechin gallate, or ECG; and epigallocatechin gallate, abbreviated as EGCG. EGCG is believed to be the most powerful of the classes.
Foods High in Catechins:
Note: Green tea is the least processed and thus provides the most antioxidant polyphenols, notably a catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is believed to be responsible for most of the health benefits linked to green tea.
Several studies have found links between the consumption of catechins, particularly those in green tea, to disease prevention and treatment. A review of studies published in 2006 in "Life Sciences" found evidence that catechins can prevent tumor blood vessel growth, protect against the development of atherosclerotic plaque buildups in arteries, help promote anti-diabetic effects in insulin resistance and provide significant protection against Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. The review also noted that catechins are as much as 100 times more potent as an antioxidant than vitamin C and 25 times more potent than vitamin E.
Very little research has examined the effects of catechins in humans. Catechins aren't distributed evenly in plant tissues, and food processing can alter levels further. A report published in the "British Journal of Nutrition" in 2008 also noted that genetics and environmental factors may affect the biological outcome of polyphenols, including catechins, and make it hard to establish dose-effect relationships. Green and black tea also contain caffeine, and excessive amounts can cause insomnia, heart palpitations, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea and headaches. If you have heart or kidney disease, an ulcer or anxiety disorder, check with your doctor before consuming any form of caffeine-containing tea.