Green Tea Antioxidants
Why They Are Powerful

What are the green tea antioxidants? What makes them so effective compared to antioxidants found in other fruits and vegetables?

Hardly a month goes by without some newly discovered green tea benefits appearing in the headlines.

"Green tea prevents prostate". Green tea fights arthritis". "Green tea boosts detox enzymes". The list goes on and on...

What is the magic green tea ingredient that makes all these wonderful medical cures possible? Green tea antioxidants.

Here are seven reasons why they are so powerful.

Green Tea Antioxidants Benefit #1:
Fight Free Radicals

Green Tea Antioxidants It starts with the bad guys: free radicals. They are everywhere - in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and even the sunlight we love so much.

Every moment, the body absorbs oxygen and turns it into energy in a process called oxidation. This process releases free radicals.

They are usually mopped up by antioxidants before they can hurt us. As we age, however, this process becomes more inefficient.

Highly reactive, these harmful molecules travel around our body. They damage cells and DNA, causing aging, heart disease, strokes and cancers.

See those wrinkles and thinning skin that we see more and more of every day? It is the damage done by free radicals.

Antioxidants slow down aging by neutralizing these free radicals. They perform healing at the deepest cellular level, allowing the benefits to manifest in a myriad of different ways.

Green Tea Antioxidants Benefit #2:
Highest Flavonoids Content

Green Tea AntioxidantsA 2007 report published by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) compares nearly 400 foods for their flavonoids content.

Green tea contains a simple form of flavonoid known as catechins (flavan-3-ols). Dried green tea extract can contain 30% to 40% of catechins.

Now, 30% to 40% is A LOT. It is the reason why green tea ranks among plants with the highest total flavonoid content.

Just 1 gram of green tea leaves contains 127 milligrams of catechins. 

Dark chocolate comes a distant second. 100 grams of dark chocolate from the Netherlands contains only 54 milligrams of catechins.

Green Tea Antioxidants Benefit #3:
Dollar Effective

When comparing the antioxidant capacity of foods and beverages, people often forget that just 3 grams of dried leaves brew 1 cup of tea.

Fruits such as pomegranate may contain as much as or more antioxidants than a cup of green tea. But gram for gram and dollar for dollar, none of them packs as much punch.

Now you see why green tea is the most consumed beverage after water? Drink green tea is the most enjoyable and cost effective way to detoxification.

Green Tea Antioxidants Benefit #4:
Equivalent of 8 Apples

Green Tea AntioxidantsA study published by the HNRCA of Tufts University in United States illustrates how plentiful catechins are.

They found that catechins are not as easily absorbed as vitamin C. But their abundant quantities more than compensate the difference.

One cup of green tea contains 200 milligrams of catechins, which equals 8 apples.

If only grandma knew about this when she asked me to munch those apples!

Green Tea Antioxidants Benefit #5:
Synergistic Effect

Green tea not only contains large amount of catechins, it also has a host of other chemicals that facilitate its antioxidant activities. According to Cabrera, green tea contains gallic acid, a powerful antioxidant in its own right.

It also contains carotenoids, tocopherols, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and minerals such as chromium, manganese, selenium, zinc and certain phytochemical compounds.

It is believed that these compounds add to the antioxidant potential of green tea. That's why drinking green tea is preferable to swallowing supplement tablets.

You are not just getting catechins. You are getting a lot more.

Green Tea Antioxidants Benefit #6:
Highly Potent

The 1996 study conducted by Cao found that green tea exhibits much higher antioxidant activities against peroxyl radicals than vegetable such as garlic, kale, spinach and Brussels sprouts.

About half of catechins are EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate). Available in the highest concentration in green tea, EGCG is the most active and best researched of catechins.

Researchers at the University of Kansas felt that EGCG is at least 100 times more effective than vitamin C and 25 times better than vitamin E in protecting your cells DNA from damage by free radicals.

Dr. Mitscher from University of Kansas researcher says:

"I'm not making any claims, but, used in conjunction with a healthful diet and exercise program, it's like an insurance policy. It increases your odds of avoiding or postponing diseases associated with free radicals."

EGCG has been found to be twice as powerful as resveratrol, an antioxidant found in red wine.

Green tea, which is water soluble, has another advantage over vitamin E. If you drink too much green tea, it is simply excreted by your body. But if you consume too much vitamin E, it is retained in your body fats at potentially harmful levels.

EGCG also tops other antioxidants such as butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT).

Green Tea Antioxidants Benefit #7:
Proven Absorption of Antioxidants

A team of researchers in Italy has provided the clearest evidence yet that green tea antioxidants are absorbed by the human body after consumption.

The team set out to determine how much green tea antioxidants stay in the body after being consumed.

Previous studies have sought to answer this question; however, their results were limited by small sample groups, the inability to account for the activities of microflora in the intestines, and/or insufficient technology for measuring compounds that are either absorbed by the body or pass through it.

In this case, the team used a very high-tech method of analysis: high-performance liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry on the urine and plasma of human subjects.

The green tea consists of tea leaves, sugar, dextrose, lemon juice, ascorbic acid and flavoring. They discovered that EGCG was the only un-metabolized tea compound and the highest in absolute concentration.

Scientist Brighenti concluded:

With this study, we have shown that these molecules are efficiently absorbed in healthy volunteers and that they remain within the body for more than 24 hours after tea intake.

On average (in 20 healthy volunteers) ... almost 40 percent of green tea [antioxidants] were absorbed by the human body.

Green Tea Antioxidants Benefit #8:
Better Than Black Tea

A 2003 study conducted by Kenichi Yanagimoto compares green tea, oolong tea and black tea for their antioxidant activities.

He found green tea to be the most potent antioxidant, followed by oolong tea, then black tea.

Green tea blocked oxidation by almost 100% over 40 days.

Oolong tea blocked oxidation by 50% over 15 days.

Black tea showed only slight antioxidant activities.

Another 2000 study conducted by Langley-Evans reported similar results. He showed that the total antioxidant capacity of green tea is more potent than that of black tea.

How Much?

According to Cabrera, you only need to consume a few cups of green tea each day to get the benefit.

Many human studies showed that drinking 1 to 6 cups a day results in a significant increase in plasma antioxidant capacity, with initial indications of reduced DNA and lipids damage.

Similar results were reported by a 1999 study conducted by Kraunig. The study consisted of 40 males smokers in China and 27 men and women (smokers and non smokers) in the United States.

He observed that oxidative DNA damage, lipid peroxidation and free radicals generation were reduced after consuming about 6 cups a day for a week.

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Carmen Cabrera (2006). Beneficial Effects of Green Tea - A Review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Vol 25. No.2, 79-99.

Cao G, Sofie E, Prior R (1996). Antioxidant capacity of tea and common vegetables. J Agric Food Chem 44:3426-3431.

Kenichi Yanagimoto, Hirotomo Ochi, Kwang-Geun Lee, and Takayuki Shibamoto (2003). Antioxidative Activities of Volatile Extracts from Green Tea, Oolong Tea, and Black Tea. J. Agric. Food Chem., 51 (25), 7396 -7401.

Langley-Evans S (2000). Antioxidant potential of green tea and black tea determined using the ferric reducing power (FRAP) essay. Int J Food Sci Nutr 51:181-188.

Kraunig J (1999). The effect of tea consumption on oxidative stress in smokers and nonsmokers. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 220:249-254.

Daniele Del Rio, Luca Calani, Chiara Cordero, Sara Salvatore, Nicoletta Pellegrini (2010). Bioavailability and catabolism of green tea flavan-3-ols in humans. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2009.09.021.

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