A molecule found in green tea might help to protect against atherosclerosis, which is a common cause of heart attacks and stroke, according to a recent findings.
Atherosclerosis is an accumulation of plaque within the arteries. The buildup starts as fatty streaks on the walls of blood vessels, they gradually increase in size to become hardened plaques. This causes the arteries to become narrower, thereby reducing blood flow.
As the vessels become congested, certain regions of the body receive less of the oxygen-rich blood that keeps them healthy.
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As atherosclerosis develops slowly, there are few symptoms. But, over the years, problems can begin to surface.
Atherosclerosis could lead to a glut of problems, such as coronary artery disease such as stroke, depending on the site of the affected arteries.
How Green tea may help
The list of ostensible health benefits of green tea is numerous. From weight loss benefits, to cancer-fighting powers, green tea has been considered the medicine of life. However, research doesn’t back up many of these assertions.
When speaking with the British National Health Service (NHS) about the health benefits of green tea, Alison Hornby — of the British Dietetic Association in Birmingham, in the United Kingdom said;
“The evidence for the majority of these conditions is weak or lacking.”
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However, because green tea contains so many compounds, scientists are still carrying out research on the components of the the drink to tease out any potentially bioactive molecules.
One chemical found in green tea is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Apart from green tea, it’s also found in black and white tea, but it is most abundant in the dried leaves of green tea.
Scientists have demonstrated that this compound binds to apolipoprotein A-1 (apoA-1), a protein that behaves similarly to the amyloid plaques found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Due to this, studies have explored the potential use of EGCG against Alzheimer’s.
A research team from Lancaster University and the University of Leeds, both in the U.K., recently deliberated whether EGCG might also be able to help against atherosclerosis.
In atherosclerosis, apoA-1 sticks to plaques, making them larger and restricting blood flow further. If it could be dissolved, it might ease the condition.
As hoped, they found that EGCG breaks down apoA-1 when in the presence of heparin, a naturally occurring anticoagulant. The mixture of molecules converted apoA-1 into smaller and more soluble molecules that are less likely to control blood flow.