Green tea is known for its many supposed beneficial qualities, but the latest being attributed to the antioxidant-rich refreshment is that it could play a role in the prevention of strokes. That is according to new research published this week.
Scientists from Lancaster and Leeds universities believe they have found evidence that epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is a compound present in green tea, can break up the fatty plaques that form in arteries – reducing the flow of blood – and increase the risk of strokes.
The study found that EGCG can bind to the potentially life-threatening materials forming in blood vessels and convert them to smaller, soluble molecules. These are far less likely to cause damage.
David Middleton, a professor in chemistry at Lancaster University, said of the findings: “The health benefits of green tea have been widely promoted and it has been known for some time that EGCG can alter the structures of amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
“Our results show that this intriguing compound might also be effective against the types of plaques which can cause heart attacks and strokes.”
The professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Sheffield, Tim Chico, was a little more cautious: “It is far too early to suggest that this will lead to new treatments. There are thousands of researchers working across the globe […] and people should be encouraged that we are making great progress.
“Should you drink green tea? Yes, if you like it, but not because of this research.”
The research team are now looking into ways that EGCG can be introduced into the bloodstream in effective quantities, negating the need to drink excessive amounts of green tea.