Published on: March 8, 2012
by Craig Wallin for Alzheimers
Since ancient times, green tea has been a staple of daily life in Asia, and known as a healing beverage. In more recent times, hundreds of scientific studies have confirmed the folk wisdom of Asian cultures, finding natural compounds called polyphenols or flavonoids in the tea.
Much of the scientific research has linked the protective compounds in green tea to cancer prevention, protection against cardiovascular disease, detoxification, weight loss and even dental cavity protection. There is also growing evidence, backed by research studies around the world, that one of these protective compounds is effective in preventing the buildup of plaque in the brain, linked to Alzheimer’s disease. This buildup of plaque, called beta-amyloid plaque, is widely believed by medical researchers to cause the nerve damage and memory loss of Alzheimer’s disease.
Most of the flavonoids found in tea are “catechins”, a basic form of flavonoid. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants, and the catechins found in green tea contain among the highest flavonoid content of all plants. The primary catechin is called epigallocatechin-3-gallate, usually abbreviated to EGCG. EGCG is over 100 times as effective in neutralizing harmful free radicals as vitamin C.
Because oxidative damage and inflammation are significant contributors to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, the powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of tea can be a valuable tool in Alzheimer’s prevention. According to one expert, Dr. Bradford L. Frank, a medical school professor, “There is now a large body of scientific evidence demonstrating that certain natural compounds, such as catechins, improve age-related cognitive decline, and are neuroprotective for Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases. This scientific evidence supports the beneficial effects of green tea on cognitive function and it’s uses as a natural neuroprotective substance.”
While there have been hundreds of studies documenting the positive effects of tea on the brain, a recent large study of over 1,000 Japanese adults over 70 years of age by Dr. Kuriyama showed encouraging results. The study found that those who drank at least one cup per day, compared to those who drank fewer than 3 cups per week, had a 38 percent decrease in cognitive impairment.
Most experts recommend drinking 3 to 5 cups a day for maximum health benefits. But, unlike Asians, most Americans and Europeans are not accustomed to drinking that much, if any, green tea. Fortunately, green tea supplements are an easy and inexpensive way to enjoy the health benefits without giving up your favorite beverage.
One cup contains 80 to 100 milligrams of polyphenols, so a supplement that contains 500 milligrams of polyphenols would be the equivalent of five cups of green tea. There is currently no standard recommended dosage, so either follow the supplement manufacturer’s recommendations or consult your health care provider.
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