Did you know that green tea is the most consumed drink around the world after water?
Not only is it loved for its grassy and bold taste, but also its proposed health benefits.
There have been many studies on the health benefits associated with consuming green tea, which includes everything from improving cardiovascular and oral health to assisting in weight loss and boosting immune function.
But there’s one specific type of compound present in green tea that plays a significant role in why it has earned the ‘healthiest tea’ title: EGCG.
What is ECGC?
EGCG is one of the four major catechins found in green tea. (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is the most abundant, but there is also (-)-epicatechin (EC), (-)-epicatechin-3-gallate (ECG), and (-)-epigallocatechin (EGC).
Of these four catechins, EGCG and EGC are found in the highest amounts constituting approximately 59% and 9% dry respectively, and have been the pinpoint of most studies conducted on the benefits of consuming green tea 1, 2.
Catechins belong to a larger group of compounds called polyphenols, which are known for their ability to inhibit histamine release, inhibit leukotriene B4 (pro-inflammatory molecule) release, stimulate angiogenesis (blood vessel formation), activate SIRT1, among others 3.
Benefits Of Green Tea
Aside from having a lovely earthy taste, green tea has been shown to possess some pretty powerful medicinal properties. Here’s what it has been shown to do 2:
- Anticarcinogenic—controls cell proliferation, apoptosis (cell death), and angiogenesis in tumor cells
- Antimicrobial—increases activity of oral peroxidases, prevents development and progression of periodontitis, reduces erosion and tooth loss, helps improve bad breath
- Anti-inflammatory—decreases protein denaturation and increases the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines
- Antioxidant—limits the amount of circulating free radicals by binding to reactive oxygen species (ROS), upregulating levels of antioxidant enzymes and increasing levels of their activity
Aside from these properties, green tea has also been shown to aid weight loss. While the mechanism remains unclear, there’s speculation that it has to do with the inhibiting function of catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), an enzyme that degrades catechol compounds.
EGCG directly inhibits COMT activity, which increases catecholamine concentrations and stimulates sympathetic nervous system activity. An increase in sympathetic activity induces lipolysis and potentially increases fat oxidation 4, 5.
What Type Of Green Tea Has The Highest Amount of EGCG?
The catechin content of green tea depends on the processing method of the leaves before drying.
They undergo a certain degree of fermentation and heating prior to manufacturing, which can alter their inherent properties and thus, health benefits.
But other factors influence catechin levels like geographical location, growing conditions (soil, climate), and the type of green tea.
One research group suggests that a cup of green tea brewed using 2.5g of tea leaves with 200ml of water will contain around 90mg of EGCG 6.
Here are some teas containing the highest amounts of catechins 7:
- Unfermented green tea
- Japanese Sencha (124 mg/100 ml)
- Sri Lankan Green tea (139/100ml)
- Korean Jeoncha
According to one study, the total level of catechins and EGCG were green tea (old leaves) > green tea (young leaves) and oolong tea > black tea and pu-erh tea 8; old tea leaves contain less caffeine, but higher amounts of EGCG and total catechins than younger ones.
The Problem With Green Tea
It may seem fine to routinely consume a cup or two of green tea upon waking to get you going in the morning, but did you ever stop to think that the innocent cup of tea you’re drinking may have a dark side to it?
Turn out it does.
The use of green tea extracts and infusions has been mildly associated with liver toxicity.
Research shows this is likely because of the catechin component of green tea, but namely EGCG.
Rodent studies indicate that exposure to EGCG has been shown to induce mitochondrial toxicity and generate reactive oxygen species (free-radicals), which are highly damaging to cellular DNA 9.
But wait, there’s something else that’s potentially more concerning…
Many green teas are also contaminated with heavy metals, which accumulate in your body and can have potentially fatal outcomes when safe levels are exceeded 7.
Lead, cadmium, and nickel are the three heavy metals most commonly found in green teas.
- Lead: found in the highest concentrations in green teas cultivated from South Korea and Japan (Matcha and Agari types), as well as China and India
- Cadmium: found in the highest concentration in teas cultivated in China and India
- Nickel: found in the highest concentration in green teas cultivated in South Korea and China
Heavy metal toxicity can cause decreased energy levels and damage the function of the brain, lungs, kidney, liver, blood, and other vital organs.
Long-term exposure can also lead to various physical, muscular, and neurological degenerative processes 10.
Better Alternatives to EGCG
If you’re looking for all the benefits of green tea consumption without any of the risks, try these fat-burning options instead.
They may be more effective than green tea and provide little to no short-term or long-term affects. Best of all, they’re all components of Burn Lab Pro!
β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate, also known as HMB, is a compound naturally produced in your body as a by-product of leucine metabolism.
The two most significant effects HMB has on your body composition are preventing the breakdown of muscle tissue and blunting the effects of cortisol on muscle growth and breakdown.
HMB does this by activating the mTOR pathway, which has a direct effect on stimulating muscle protein synthesis.
HMB doesn’t have a direct impact on stimulating fat loss, but it is still nevertheless a great supplement to add to your daily fat-burning stack to prevent muscle loss.
Cayenne pepper extract elicits much the same effect as green tea extract, with none of the nasty side effects.
Capsaicinoids, the compounds responsible for giving chili peppers their heat, are a potent thermogenic agent that has been shown to stimulate activity of the sympathetic nervous system, which increases secretion of the catecholamines epinephrine and norepinephrine 11.
High levels of circulating catecholamines help to mobilize fat and stimulate lipolysis (fat breakdown) 12.
Forskolin is not a new compound, but a relatively new one to the fat-burning world.
It is an isolated from the root of the Coleus forskohlii plant native to India that has been shown to act directly on the enzyme adenylate cyclase, which activates cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP); cAMP is a major regulator of lipolysis.
Forskolin affects fat loss in four specific ways: regulating dietary induced thermogenesis (DIT), increasing basal metabolic rate, increasing, body fat utilization, and releasing fatty acids from adipose tissue to be burned for energy 13.
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- WC Reygaert. Green Tea Catechins: Their Use in Treating and Preventing Infectious Diseases. Biomed Res Int. 2018 Jul.
- HS Kim, MJ Quon, JA Kim. New insights into the mechanisms of polyphenols beyond antioxidant properties; lessons from the green tea polyphenol, epigallocatechin 3-gallate. Redox Biol. 2014; 2: 187-195.
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- DS Goldstein, G Eisenhofer, IJ Kopin. Sources and significance of plasma levels of catechols and their metabolites in humans. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2003; 305(3): 800-811.
- CD Wu, GX Wei. Tea as a functional food for oral health. Nutrition. 2002; 18(5): 443-444.
- W Koch, W Kukula-Koch, L Komsta, Z Marzec, W Szwerc, K Głowniak. Green Tea Quality Evaluation Based on Its Catechins and Metals Composition in Combination with Chemometric Analysis. Molecules. 2018; 23(7): 1689.
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- LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; 2012-. Green Tea. [Updated 2020 Nov 20]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547925/
- M Jaishankar, T Tseten, N Anbalagan, BB Mathew, KN Beeregowda. Toxicity, mechanism and health effects of some heavy metals. Interdiscip Toxicol. 2014; 7(2): 60-72.
- T Watanabe, T Kawada, M Yamamoto, K Iwai. Capsaicin, a pungent principle of hot red pepper, evokes catecholamine secretion from the adrenal medulla of anesthetized rats. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1987; 142(1): 259-264.
- J Deshpande, S Jeyakodi, V Juturu. Tolerability of Capsaicinoids from Capsicum Extract in a Beadlet Form: A Pilot Study. J Toxicol. 2016; 2016: 6584649.
- S Henderson, B Magu, C Rasmussen, et al. Effects of coleus forskohlii supplementation on body composition and hematological profiles in mildly overweight women. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2005; 2(2): 54-62.