Green tea, an ancient Chinese remedy, may help prevent Alzheimer's disease and even be useful in fighting cancer, according to a study from Newcastle University.
Green tea is known for its rich amount of antioxidants, which protect the body's cells from damage. It has been attributed with improving heart health, metabolic processes, and even protection of the liver. The tea is also believed to be useful in fat-burning, making it a popular dietary supplement.
Until now, green tea in its undigested form was already known for its health promotion. The Newcastle researchers aimed to find out if green tea's beneficial properties were being properly absorbed during digestion.
What the researchers found was that digestion of green tea actually released chemicals that were more potent than the undigested form of the tea. These same chemicals also slowed down the growth of tumor cells used in the experiment.
The team used a simulation of the digestive system, which made it possible to assess its properties. They also observed how polyphenols, molecules present in green tea leaves, protect brain cells from toxic compounds and inhibit tumor growth. They also bind to and inhibit two compounds commonly linked to Alzheimer's disease.
The researchers hope to further study these processes by studying green tea digestion in actual people, using healthy human volunteers.