Green Tea and Heart Disease Risk

Green tea (along with black and oolong tea) comes from the plant Camellia sinensis, found in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The primary compounds in green tea are catechins of which a substance called EGCG is the most abundant. These compounds are responsible for green tea’s antioxidant activity. Antioxidants destroy substances known as free radicals, which damage body cells. Free radicals are generated from normal bodily processes, and also come from toxins, like cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of heart and lung disease, especially lung cancer. Interestingly, the rates of cigarette smoking are higher in Asia, than in the U.S., while the rates of heart disease and lung cancer are lower. For every 100,000 American men, 348 will die from heart disease. For every 100,000 Japanese men, 186 will die from heart disease. A recent review of studies suggests that the decrease in heart disease risk might be due to the higher rates of green tea consumption. The dose of green tea is usually 1 or 2 teaspoons of tea steeped in 1 cup of water and drunk up to 4 times daily. Green tea should not be used by women who are pregnant or breast feeding.