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Did you know that catechins are responsible for the many health benefits we associate with tea?
Catechins belong to a group of polyphenols naturally found in tea leaves, as well as in fruits and cocoa. Though catechins have been used in herbal remedies for hundreds of years, we are only beginning to understand the true power of the Camellia Sinensis plant.
What makes catechins so special? So far, studies have found that catechins have antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and antiangiogenic properties, among many others. These properties, in turn, have been associated with a lower risk of chronic conditions such as cancer and heart disease.
But to understand the power of catechins, let's dive deeply into their many health benefits.
There are four major types of catechins: epicatechin (EC), epigallocatechin (EGC), epicatechin gallate (ECG), and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is considered the most potent catechin, responsible for many health benefits.
In particular, catechins have strong antioxidant properties that protect the body from free-radical damage. Free radicals are known to cause oxidative stress, which can lead to premature aging and cell damage. Studies have well-established the role that free radicals play in the onset of chronic health problems.
Catechins are associated with a reduced risk of oxidative stress, which can then reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Here’s a detailed explanation of the mechanisms underlying the health benefits of catechins.
There is no direct link between cancer and catechins. However, scientists have extensively studied the anti-cancer properties of catechins.
According to studies, catechins may have different inhibition mechanisms during carcinogenesis.
This includes inactivating carcinogenic substances to prevent them from entering cells. Catechins may also help suppress cell mutation caused by carcinogens. They may also prevent tumor promoters from binding to receptors. Other mechanisms include repairing mutations and preventing the spread of cancer cells.
Based on existing literature, catechins have been linked to a lower risk of developing breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer. One study also found that Japanese women who drank at least 10 cups of tea a day had lower cancer incidence and later onset of cancer.
However, more studies are still needed to understand the anti-cancer effects of catechins fully.
Hypotension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. According to researchers, catechins may help lower blood pressure.
In one study, participants with type 2 diabetes were tasked to drink a catechin tea blend three times a day for four weeks. In the end, the participants saw a significant decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Based on animal studies, catechins may suppress NADPH oxidase activity and lower reactive oxygen species, both of which can cause hypertension.
Catechin-rich green tea extract has quickly become a prominent ingredient in weight loss supplements. While they alone will not cause weight loss, these supplements may enhance your weight loss efforts.
That's because studies have found that the interaction of catechins and caffeine may promote thermogenesis — the process of burning fat. Catechins are also associated with increased energy expenditure and faster body metabolism.
Catechins may also help you manage your weight. Research has found that catechins reduce glucose absorption in the digestive tract. They also inhibit insulin from transforming excess glucose into fat. As such, there is less fat for the body to store.
Catechins have anti-obesity properties that may help reduce cholesterol levels. Studies suggest that catechins do this by inhibiting cholesterol absorption and delaying LDL cholesterol oxidation.
Based on a meta-analysis, participants who had taken green tea catechins ranging from 145 to 3,000 mg per day had reduced LDL cholesterol compared to the control group.
By lowering cholesterol levels, catechin supplements may lower one’s risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Though the role of catechins has not yet been fully understood, a long-term study found that consumption of green tea was inversely associated with CVD deaths.
Studies have also found that higher green tea consumption was associated with lower cognitive impairment. While many improvements, such as increased mental activity and improved memory, are attributed to caffeine, studies show that catechins also support cognitive function — albeit in a smaller capacity.
According to researchers, EGCG and other catechins can cross the blood-brain barrier. There, they help promote the expansion of neural connections and prevent oxidative damage, which helps prevent cognitive dysfunction.
The benefits of catechins include protection against viral infections such as influenza. According to studies, high concentrations of EGCG and ECG can inhibit virus replication and neuraminidase activity — which aids in the release of viruses from host cells.
Researchers also found that catechins bind to the spikes of the influenza virus. This prevents the virus from binding to cells in the mucous membrane. As such, catechins may help protect against infection.
Those taking catechin supplements may also notice better oral health.
According to studies, catechins may protect against periodontal disease. This is due to a bactericidal property that is effective against Porphyromonas gingivalis and Prevotella spp.
Apart from killing bacteria that cause tooth decay, catechins also target bad breath. In one study, gargling a diluted catechin solution for four weeks was found to have reduced halitosis.
Catechins may also enhance anti-fungal treatment. In existing studies, pyrogallol catechin was found to have a strong anti-fungal effect on Candida albicans. EGCG may also enhance the effect of anti-fungals such as amphotericin B and fluconazole.
Researchers suggest that you may see the same benefits with a lower dose of anti-fungals when combined with catechins.
Catechins have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties that may promote optimal gut health.
Studies have found that catechins inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the gut. This includes Staphylococcus aureus, H. pylori, E. coli, and Salmonella typhimurium DT104.
However, catechins do not seem to kill off good bacteria such as Lactobacillus spp. and Bifidobacterium spp. Some studies even found an increase in good bacteria after green tea consumption.
Researchers suggest that this is because catechins are active in alkaline conditions. An overgrowth of bad bacteria leads to the release of ammonium and sulfides, which make the gut alkaline. On the other hand, good bacteria produce acidic substances. However, the mechanisms underlying catechins’ effect on gut health still need to be fully explored.
Now that you know the many health benefits of catechins, you should incorporate them into your daily regimen. The good thing is that harnessing the power of catechins has never been easier.
You can consume catechin-infused drinks such as green tea. Catechins are naturally present in many foods, including apples, blackberries, grapes, cherries, fava beans, and dark chocolate.
Another great option would be green tea supplements. They're very convenient because you don't have to prepare anything. All the catechin health benefits are already packaged in one tiny capsule. Experts recommend a maximum dose of 800 mg per day.
Just keep in mind that not all supplements are equal. It's more than just about dosage. You also need to choose one that features high bioavailability to maximize the benefits of catechins.
At Xendurance, we offer Immune Boost, which is loaded with catechins. Per capsule, you get 111 mg of green tea leaf extract with 90% standardized catechin content and 25 mg of green tea extract with 98% standardized polyphenol content.
Not only that, but Immune Boost is also packed with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants that help boost the effects of catechins. This helps keep your immune system strong and ready to fight against free-radical damage.
Combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise, catechins can be a powerful tool for boosting your overall health.