Antioxidants are the natural molecules that inhibit the oxidation of other molecules, thereby preventing the damage done by free radicals.
Free radicals occur naturally in your body as a result of oxidation. They are also created with exposure to sun, smoke, radiation, and pollution. Over time, they can cause harm to your body chemicals and damage living cells.
Vitamins A (milk, eggs), Vitamin C (fruits, vegetables), and Vitamin E (nuts, seeds), beta-carotene (carrots, apricots, pumpkin, kale), lutein (green leafy vegetables), lycopene (tomatoes, watermelon) and selenium (cereals, animal products) are good antioxidants.
Catechins are powerful antioxidants found in green tea.
Green tea catechins are believed to be responsible for the many health benefits of the beverage, owing to their antioxidant properties.
Green tea is made from the unfermented leaves of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, which is rich in polyphenols such as catechins. The most abundant of these catechins are,
- Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)
- Epigallocatechin (EGC)
- Epicatechin-3-gallate (ECG)
- Epicatechin (EC)
The amount of catechins present in green tea varies from brand to brand. Broadly speaking, a 200 ml cup of green tea contains 600-900 mg of water extractable solids, of which 30-40% are catechins.
The most potent catechin found in green tea, EGCG, is attributed to many health perks that have traditionally been linked to green tea. This particular catechin has been extensively researched on for its medicinal properties including its anti-cancer potential.
Green tea extracts usually contain 50% EGCG and are thought to have double the antioxidant power of Vitamin C.
Antioxidant Activity: Green Tea vs. Black Tea
Green tea and black tea both have antioxidant properties because the theaflavins present in black tea and the catechins found in green tea are equally effective antioxidants.
In a study carried out by South Korean researchers, it was found that green teas contained more phenols than black teas. They noted that the antioxidant capacity was much greater per serving of green tea than black tea. This led them to conclude that green tea might be more beneficial than black tea when it comes to its antioxidant potency.
Effects of Green Tea Antioxidants
Fat Reduction and Oxidation
Reduces LDL Cholesterol
A double blind study on 41 subjects revealed that catechins resulted in reduced LDL cholesterol over a period of 24 weeks.
Decreases Iron Absorption
Iron absorption was reduced in subjects when given EGCG pills in a double blind study.
Helps with Sore Muscles
A high dose of EGCG before exercise decreased muscle soreness.
Decreases Carbohydrate Absorption
There was a 30% reduction in the absorption of carbohydrate in the group that ingested 4g green tea extract.