Because of our ever-rising stressful lifestyles and polluted environment; our over exposure to UV rays, toxins, cigarette smoke, microbes; and our over-medicated society; our body has to deal with an even more massive free radical onslaught.
According to new statistics (2006 to 2007) cited by Medco Health Solutions Inc., 51% of American children and adults take one or more prescription drugs daily!
Cells Under Attack!
Free radicals are will knock the living daylights out of you―at the cellular level. Seriously, you do not want too many of these cell terminators running around loose.
The damage caused by free radicals is believed to be a major cause of cancer, heart disease, aging and many other diseases or conditions. These diseases, as you know, come without knocking!
What can you do about it?
Start protecting your health. If you’ve already lost it, regain it.
Alongside a healthy diet and a consistent exercise program, provide your body with ample “cellular” nutrition by consuming high quality, complete and balanced antioxidant supplements. (more about green tea supplementation after this).
Catechins: The Green Tea Antioxidants
The most important green tea antioxidants (other flavonoids also act as free radical scavengers) are catechins, which comprise four main derivatives, namely epicatechin (EC), epigallocatechin (EGC), epicatechin gallate (ECG), and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
Forget the scientific terms, just remember EGCG is the most powerful of all green tea antioxidants.
Where’s the proof?
Thought you never ask.
Green Tea Antioxidant Studies
In Italy, researchers from the Department of Food Science and Microbiology, University of Milan, gave healthy volunteers 2 cups of green tea (containing approximately 250 mg of total catechins) per day for a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
Six weeks later, those drinking the green tea showed a “significant increase in antioxidant activity” in their bloodstreams and “significant decreases in plasma peroxides level”.
These two measurements are biomarkers of oxidative stress. (link)
Another randomized and controlled study conducted at the Arizona College of Public Health, University of Arizona, USA, showed that drinking 4 cups of decaffeinated green tea per day led to an increase of catechins in the blood, and a decrease in oxidative DNA damage among smokers.
“Plasma and urinary levels of catechins rose significantly in the green tea group compared with the other two groups.” The study also “revealed a highly significant decrease in urinary 8-OHdG (-31%).” (link)
Urinary 8-OHdG, by the way, is not only a biomarker of cellular oxidative stress but might also be a risk factor for cancer, atherosclerosis and diabetes. Elevated level of urinary 8-OHdG has been detected in patients with various cancers.
The researchers concluded that “regular green tea drinking might protect smokers from oxidative damages and could reduce cancer risk or other diseases caused by free radicals associated with smoking.”
More Green Tea Antioxidant Studies
Here are more studies to proof green tea extract’s free radical scavenging prowess.
In Brazil, 2008, researchers from the Department of Nutrition, Federal University of Santa Catarina, investigated the effects of 3 cups of green tea per day on biomarkers of oxidative stress in young men undergoing resistance exercise.
Based on the results, green tea is found to reduce the post-exercise concentration of lipid hydroperoxide (a type of free radicals) and increased the values of total polyphenols, reduced glutathione (a powerful antioxidant produced by the body). (link)
In 2004, two researchers from the University of Washington and Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, conducted an in vitro study to determine the antioxidant capacity of EGCG to protect cell membrane against oxidative damage.
The result indicated that EGCG is able to block lipid peroxidation “significantly”! (link)
Did you know that EGCG as an antioxidant is about 25 to 100 times more potent than vitamins C and E?
Green Tea Antioxidants vs. “Oxidized” LDL Cholesterol
Those floating LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream only turn “bad” when they are oxidized by excessive free radicals. To make a long story short, it’s “oxidized” LDL cholesterol that contributes to the entire atherosclerotic(hardening of the arteries) process from start to finish.
In Japan, an in vitro study was performed to measure the ability of different green tea antioxidant catechins in the prevention of LDL cholesterol oxidation. The results showed that both EGCG and ECG “inhibited the formation of oxidized cholesterol.” (link)
Why Green Tea Antioxidant Supplements?
I drink tea because it helps calm down my “tense” nerves. The whole tea brewing and tea drinking process help me relax and unwind after a hard day.
When choosing my tea of choice, I’d go for one with high theanine content, rather than catechin.
Catechin/tannin gives an astringent taste while theanine provides a light “savory” flavor. Depending on the quality of the tea, a cup of green tea contains 60 mg to 125 mg of catechins.
But when it comes to supplements, the green tea antioxidant, catechin, would be the determining factor. Highly purified green tea extracts in its raw (whole leaf) form is best.
Why whole leaf extract?
The various components of green tea (and this includes theanine, and caffeine) extracts have synergistic effects and therefore are better than any individual tea component.
Look out for the potency of the green tea extract. Gram for gram, a high potency extract (98% polyphenols and 80% catechins) provides more catechins in a tablet/capsule than lower potency ones.
Broad Spectrum Antioxidants
Catechin green tea antioxidant is just one out of a whole long list of antioxidant heroes available to us.
For protection against the onslaught of free radicals, the synergy created by all these potent antioxidants is crucial.
When you provide all of them together (each in modest amounts), one plus one is no more two, but adds up to eleven, or maybe twenty-two!
I don’t suggest that you go out now and get yourself a truckload of antioxidant supplements. Just an average of 2 tablets for each (let’s just take 10), will have you swallowing 20 a day! What’s more, you could easily “megadose” yourself this way.
Another important point, how do you know know if the supplements are of exceptional quality? Are they as effective as claimed?
Moreover, high quality specialty nutrients purchased individually are very expensive! A hole in your pocket before the antioxidants could even start doing their job is not what I hope to see.
A Viable Alternative
Here’s a more economical option, yet without compromising quality and effectiveness.
The formula that I highly recommend, which I’m taking myself regularly, is a broad spectrum supplement that addresses ALL the five major causes of aging, including free radicals.
In this potent formula, you’ll find the humble green tea antioxidant working “synergistically” with up to 93 key ingredients … this is cellular nutrition at its best!
Don’t worry about the caffeine content, it’s very minimal (less than 0.5%; at this level, the green tea extract can be considered “decaffeinated”). In comparison, a cup of coffee gives you 80 to 100 mg.
Here’s some additional information to feed your brain. Catechins are also found in non-tea plants. Generally, non-tea extracted catechins can be divided into two categories; fruit catechins such as apples and grapes, and cacao and bark catechins.