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Green Tea contains a substance called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which is a potent insulin sensitizer, improving glucose tolerance and reducing the risk of Type II diabetes developing. EGCG also re reduces the amount of glucose produced by the liver. It does this at a genetic level through reducing the number of messenger RNAs that direct liver cells to produce the enzymes involved in the creation of glucose.
A study in the Journal of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2010 found that drinking green tea (or taking green tea supplements equal to 300 mg EGCG) with a meal increased fat oxidation or “fat-burning” in layman’s terms by 33%. Interestingly, higher doses of EGCG did not! Green tea contains 3 compounds which could contribute to fat loss – catechins like EGCG, theanine and caffeine. For this reason, it may be better to drink the tea rather than take an isolated supplement.
Additional research published in 2012 found that epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG, one of the main active components of green tea, when fed to mice along with a starchy meal, reduced the spike in blood glucose levels afterwards by around 50%. The dose of EGCG fed to the mice was the equivalent of around one and a half cups of green tea for a human. The green tea extract did not have any effect on blood sugar levels when fed with simple sugars such as glucose or maltose, so it is likely that the compound reduces the speed at which starches are broken down into their component sugars. An enzyme called alpha-amylase that is produced in both the mouth and by the pancreas helps break down starch into maltose and glucose. EGCG may inhibit the enzymes ability to break down the starch, the researchers indicated, since they also found that EGCG reduced the activity of alpha amylase in the pancreas by 34 percent.
Green tea increases the rate of thermogenesis, or the rate at which the body converts calories ingested in to heat. This is likely to be due to the effect of both caffeine and EGCG.
The average cup of tea contains between 50 mg and 150 mg of polyphenols, of which between half and three quarters are likely to be EGCG.
Additionally, green tea has a laundry list of many other health benefits, including anti-cancer properties, liver protective effects, protecting against kidney and periodontal disease, cognitive decline, Alzheimers’ disease, Parkinsons’ disease and osteoporosis, contains plenty of antioxidants as well as having anti-inflammatory and blood thinning properties. It even inhibits the replication of the ‘flu’ virus, which would help to prevent or lessen the duration and severity of the ‘flu’! Of less interest to most women with PCOS, is the effect green tea has against prostate cancer.
TIP: Take a little black pepper with the green tea to increase the absorption of EGCG by 130%! A substance in black pepper, piperine, is commonly used to increase the absorption of nutrients and phytochemicals (such as EGCG).
Of particular importance to women with PCOS are it’s cardioprotective effects. Studies have found a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and stroke in subjects who drink green tea. Green tea has been shown to effectively lower the risk of atherosclerosis by lowering LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, lipid peroxides (free radicals that damage LDL cholesterol and other lipids or fats) and fibrinogen (a protein in the blood involved in the formation of blood clots), while improving the ratio of LDL (bad) to HDL (good) cholesterol. Green tea has also been found to lower elevated blood pressure and prevent hypertension from developing. All of this is great news for women with PCOS, as high insulin levels are known to increase LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure whilst decreasing the amount of HDL cholesterol.
In a study published in the November 2004 issue of the International Journal of Cancer, consuming just one cup of green tea a day was associated with a 56% lower rate of death from ovarian cancer (in those who already had the disease) over the three year period of the study. It turns out that green tea suppresses the growth of ovarian cancer cells, as well as inducing apoptosis or programmed cell death.
TIP: Brew the tea for at least 10 minutes to ensure that the active ingredients dissolve into the water. A typical cup of green tea can contain anywhere between 20-110 mg of EGCG.
CAUTION: Green tea inhibits the absorption of iron and folate. If you suffer from anaemia or eat a diet very low in iron, such as a vegetarian or vegan diet, then you may need to restrict your green tea intake. Drinking large quantities of green tea during early pregnancy can increase the risk of spina bifida and neural tube defects, if folate is not supplemented.
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