You probably know that drinking green tea is healthy. But, do you know why? One of the reasons that green tea can lead to improved cognitive health, a long life, and protection against cardiovascular disease is because it contains EGCG, a kind of polyphenol antioxidant that can be found in a variety of leaves including green tea leaves.
EGCG and other polyphenols have been shown to have free-radical-scavenging abilities as well as other beneficial effects that protect cells and tissues in the body.
The best way to reap these incredible benefits is by taking a supplement or enjoying a steaming hot cup of green tea.
What is EGCG?
EGCG stands for epigallocatechin gallate, which is a beneficial plant compound known as a polyphenol — a catechin flavonoid found in black and green tea leaves. Statistics show that most green tea extract supplements are about 50 percent EGCG.
Foods and Drinks that Contain EGCG
To intake your EGCG compound, add more of the following foods and drinks to your diet:
• Green tea
• Black tea
• White tea
• Oolong tea
• Berries like strawberries, blackberries, and cranberries
• Other fruits such as kiwis, pears, peaches, cherries, apples
• Some nuts, including pistachios, hazelnuts, and pecans
Benefits of EGCG
Some of the most revered benefits of EGCG include:
Fights Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
Free radicals are highly reactive particles that are damaging to the cells. Excessive free radical production causes oxidative stress. As an antioxidant, EGCG works to protect the cells from the damage associated with oxidative stress in addition to suppressing the activity of pro-inflammatory chemicals that are produced in the body. This is beneficial because stress and inflammation are linked to a wide range of chronic illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Supports a Healthy Heart
Research has found that the EGCG found in green tea may support heart health by lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and the accumulation of plaque in the blood vessels. All of which are contributing factors for heart disease. There’s additional evidence that supports the fact that regular tea drinkers may have a lower risk of heart attack and/or stroke.
Promotes Weight Loss
EGCG can also help promote weight loss, especially when it’s consumed with caffeine — like what’s naturally found in green tea. Additionally, some evidence shows that EGCG can protect against metabolic syndrome and promote fat loss in a number of ways, including by decreasing inflammation, suppressing appetite, and increasing energy expenditure.
Some studies even link consumption of two or more cups of green tea per day to healthier body composition. To reap even stronger benefits, combine EGCG and caffeine in the form of supplements or green tea. Results from one study found that consuming EGCG supplements with caffeine for several months helped support fat loss for overweight adults.
Helps Protect the Brain
There’s early research that even suggests the EGCG found in green tea might play a role in boosting neurological cell function and preventing degenerative brain diseases. What’s more, several observational human studies found a link between a higher intake of green tea and a lower risk of age-related brain decline, in addition to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. In addition to working to suppress cognitive dysfunction, EGCG may also help increase learning ability by lowering oxidative damage in the brain.
Recommended EGCG Dosage
One cup of brewed green tea contains around 50-100 milligrams of EGCG. Drinking one to four cups of green tea per day is thought to be healthy for most adults and poses little risk. For this reason, most health experts recommend consuming two to three cups of high-quality brewed green tea daily (not bottled or sweetened green tea).
If you’re looking for an EGCG supplement, it’s important to find one that is regulated and approved by the FDA. For EGCG supplements, researchers found that dosages between 150 and 2,500 milligrams of Catechins, like EGCG, daily can improve cholesterol. A good place to start is not exceeding 400 milligrams for the first few days and never exceeding 800 milligrams until you know how your body will react.
EGCG Risks and Side Effects
It’s important to not take too high of a dose of EGCG— especially in supplement form, because consuming supplements in high doses has been linked to potential liver damage. To ensure you take an appropriate dose, find a supplement that lists the amount of ECGC and Catechins per serving. To limit the chances of side effects, don’t exceed more than 800 mg/day.
If you’re highly sensitive to caffeine and/or oxalates, minimize your green tea consumption and avoid other supplements containing caffeine and other stimulants.
You should immediately stop taking EGCG supplements if you notice any of these symptoms:
• Low blood sugar
EGCG supplements and green tea extract should not be taken by pregnant or nursing women, patients with renal failure, liver disease, or certain heart conditions. As with any supplement, talk to your doctor before beginning EGCG to minimize your risk of nefarious side effects.