Green tea is the health drink par excellence, it helps reduce the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, fights obesity and inflammation. Not only that, green tea is also a precious ally against tumors and even more so if it is associated with particular natural substances, as we will find out by analyzing the results of a very recent article that appeared in the journal Molecules thanks to the collaboration between Korean and Indian scientists (Oh et al, Molecules, 2023).
Green tea, properties for health
Among all the varieties of tea currently available, green tea is certainly the most studied. The healthy properties of green tea can be traced back to its catechin content, among which epigallocatechin 3 gallate, or EGCG, stands out as the most powerful. These substances make green tea an aid against diabetes, high blood pressure, excess cholesterol, the accumulation of visceral fat, inflammation, free radicals, obesity and bacterial and viral infections. Not only that, green tea is able to protect neurons and reduce the risk of developing diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Do not forget the protective action of green tea on the oral cavity, counteracting or delaying periodontitis, reducing erosion of the dentin, tooth loss and bad breath. But green tea is also being studied for its anticancer action. What emerges from the studies carried out on this topic is that green tea is able to reduce the risk of breast, prostate, thyroid, colon, stomach, liver and esophageal cancers. In particular, epigallocatechin 3 gallate, the green tea catechin with the most powerful action against tumors, has been shown to act on several fronts against cellular degeneration, attacking diseased cells, favoring their death and also inhibiting migration and invasion into other tissues. However, the major problem is that in humans epigallocatechin 3 gallate is absorbed with difficulty. What to do to increase the availability of this precious substance?
How to increase the anticancer action of green tea
The article we are talking about today focuses on some substances that, when taken together with green tea, show a powerful synergy by increasing the availability of catechins and thus the anticancer properties of the drink. But what are these substances that increase the beneficial action of green tea? Vitamin C for example! Adding lemon juice to ready-to-drink tea has been shown to increase catechin levels up to 13-fold. Lemon is the citrus fruit that has shown the most effective synergy, followed immediately by orange, lime and grapefruit. Not only that, 6-gingerol, the active ingredient in ginger, has also been shown to increase the availability of epigallocatechin 3 gallate and thus the anticancer properties of green tea. So, you can add a slice of ginger to your tea too! Curcumin, which is the active ingredient of turmeric, when associated with green tea maximizes its anti-tumor action, inhibiting the growth and proliferation of diseased cells. In this case it is a little more difficult to prepare this synergy at home, as the curcumin in turn needs black pepper and a fat to be extracted effectively. However, you can find ready-made sachets on the market that combine green tea, turmeric, black pepper and another fatty element such as coconut milk. Finally, quercetin also increases the intestinal absorption of catechins. Quercetin can be added to green tea by adding elderberry or blueberry juice, which are precious sources of this antioxidant.
How to prepare a healthy and tasty green tea
Other ways to increase the presence of catechins in green tea concern the preparation of the drink. First of all, the advice is not to pour boiling water over the tea leaves, but water at 60°-70° C depending on the type of tea, this information is generally indicated on the package. Then, as Canadian scientists Beliveau and Gringas state in their book The anti-cancer diet, it is important to choose a variety of Japanese green tea, which is richer in catechins than the Chinese one, and to leave the tea leaves to infuse for 9-10 minutes, as a shorter infusion time would not allow the maximum extraction of the catechins. Finally, it is important to drink the tea within an hour of making it.
As indicated by the authors of the study themselves, green tea, given its properties, is recommended as a drink to be included in one's daily diet to bring health to the whole body, fight obesity, high blood sugar, hypertension, excess of free radicals, inflammation and finally also cellular degeneration. And how much tea to drink? The studies indicate that the beneficial effects against cellular degeneration have been observed among those who drink at least 4 cups of green tea a day.