Green tea has always provided smoother energy for me than coffee. For those that don’t know, it’s just the nonfermented version of the same tea that’s in black tea. However, recently, it’s been said to have some interesting health benefits. This morning’s research says it improves memory, so let’s take a look.
The driving health-benefit force in green tea is a polyphenol called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Polyphenols are antioxidant-rich micronutrients found in plant-based sources, such as blueberries, red wine, chocolate (cocoa), and extra-virgin olive oil. Antioxidants help protect healthy cells against oxidative damage. It’s the EGCG found in green tea that some studies have shown lowers the risks of everything from hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) to cardiovascular disease and even some cancers. We’ve even seen a recent study showing tea (type not specified) may have epigenetic health benefits in women.
It’s important to understand that antioxidants haven’t been shown to extend lifespan and have been shown to have damaging effects in people who are already at a high risk for cancer and heart disease, such as smokers. But in the rest of us, particularly those who are generally healthy, the EGCG in green tea may give us bonus points on health. Now, a new study shows another potential benefit: a significantly lower risk of cognitive decline. In other words, a nice, big memory boost!
To understand the study, it’s important to know that insulin has been found to be a major regulator in our brain in two very important areas: appetite and memory. When a healthy amount of insulin is crossing our blood-brain barrier, this can keep our hunger at bay and keep our memory and cognitive skills sharp. Likewise, when too much insulin is crossing that barrier (i.e., insulin resistance), we can experience weight gain or obesity and cognitive decline.
In the new study, the purpose was to determine the effects of EGCG on insulin resistance and memory. Investigators studied three groups of mice. Group 1 was the control and was fed a normal diet. Group 2 was fed a diet high in fat and fructose (fruit sugar). Group 3 was fed the high-fat high-fructose diet supplemented with EGCG.
Investigators observed that group 2 (high-fat high-fructose diet) experienced memory decline and weight gain (more weight than those in the control group and significantly more weight than those in the EGCG group). In group 3 (high-fat high-fructose with EGCG) the EGCG not only prevented memory decline, it also improved insulin resistance, kept weight under control, decreased inflammation, and improved the function of the mitochondria in cells. Researchers concluded that the EGCG improved memory impairment by regulating insulin receptors in the central nervous system. So there actually was a green tea memory boost!
The upshot? All of us, as we age, find ourselves with little memory hiccups and packing on some extra pounds. So green tea may be worth a try. In the meantime, remember that if you can do without caffeine, that’s likely even better. However, when you need a pick me up or if you can’t do without your daily caffiene hit, then substitute a green tea latte for that one made from espresso!
About the Author
Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in regenerative medicine and the clinical use of mesenchymal stem cells in orthopedics. He is board certified in physical medicine as well as rehabilitation and in pain management through The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.…