What’s in Your Green Tea? – NYTimes.com

What’s in Your Green Tea?

By ANAHAD O’CONNOR

 

For many, no drink is more synonymous with good health than green tea, the ancient Chinese beverage known for its soothing aroma and abundance of antioxidants. By some estimates, Americans drink nearly 10 billion servings of green tea each year.

But a new report by an independent laboratory shows that green tea can vary widely from one cup to the next. Some bottled varieties appear to be little more than sugar water, containing little of the antioxidants that have given the beverage its good name. And some green tea leaves, particularly those from China, are contaminated with lead, though the metal does not appear to leach out during the brewing process.

The report was published this week by ConsumerLab.com, an independent site that tests health products of all kinds. The company, which had previously tested a variety of green tea supplements typically found in health food stores, took a close look at brewed and bottled green tea products, a segment that has grown rapidly since the 1990s.

It found that green tea brewed from loose tea leaves was perhaps the best and most potent source of antioxidants like epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, though plain and simple tea bags made by Lipton and Bigelow were the most cost-efficient source. Green tea’s popularity has been fueled in part by a barrage of research linking EGCG to benefits like weight loss to cancer prevention, but the evidence comes largely from test tube studies, research on animals and large population studies, none of it very rigorous, and researchers could not rule out the contribution of other healthy behaviors that tend to cluster together.

Green tea is one of the most popular varieties of tea in the United States, second only to black tea, which is made from the leaves of the same plant. EGCG belongs to a group of antioxidant compounds called catechins that are also found in fruits, vegetables, wine and cocoa.

The new research was carried out in several phases. In one, researchers tested four brands of green tea beverages sold in stores. One variety, Diet Snapple Green Tea, contained almost no EGCG. Another bottled brand, Honest Tea’s Green Tea With Honey, claimed to carry 190 milligrams of catechins, but the report found that it contained only about 60 percent of that figure. The drink also contained 70 milligrams of caffeine, about two-thirds the amount in a regular cup of coffee, as well as 18 grams of sugar, about half the amount found in a can of Sprite.

Another phase of the study looked at green tea in its more natural forms – loose tea leaves sold by Teavana and tea bags sold by companies like Bigelow and Lipton. A single serving of Teavana’s Gyokuro green tea, about one teaspoonful, was chock-full of antioxidants, yielding about 250 milligrams of catechins, a third of which were EGCG. It also contained 86 milligrams of caffeine, slightly less than a regular cup of coffee.

A single bag of the green tea sold by Lipton and Bigelow contained somewhat smaller amounts of antioxidants than Teavana’s green tea and generally minimal amounts of caffeine. But Teavana’s recommended serving size was large, and the tea was also far more expensive, resulting in a higher cost per serving. The report calculated that the cost to obtain 200 milligrams of EGCG ranged from 27 cents to 60 cents with the tea bags, and $2.18 with the Teavana loose tea leaves.

But the most surprising phase of the study was an analysis of the lead content in the green tea leaves. The leaves in the Lipton and Bigelow tea bags contained 1.25 to 2.5 micrograms of lead per serving. The leaves from Teavana, however, did not contain measurable amounts.

“Lead can occur in many botanical products because it is taken up from the ground,” said Dr. Tod Cooperman, president of ConsumerLab.com. “The green tea plant is known to absorb lead at a higher rate than other plants from the environment, and lead also can build up on the surface of the leaves.”

Dr. Cooperman said the tea leaves containing lead probably originated in China, where studies have found that industrial pollution causes the leaves in some regions to gather substantial amounts of lead. The Teavana leaves came from Japan, where that is less of a problem, he said. The decaffeination process also helps remove lead.

Still, the study found that there was no real prospect of a health concern from the lead. The liquid portions of the teas that were brewed and tested contained very little if any of the metal, Dr. Cooperman said.

“The majority of the lead is staying with the leaf,” he said. “If you’re brewing it with a tea bag, the tea bag is very effectively filtering out most of the lead by keeping those tea leaves inside the bag. So it’s fine as long as you’re not eating the leaves.”

via What’s in Your Green Tea? – NYTimes.com.

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Green tea and coffee may reduce stroke risk | Health24

Green tea and coffee may reduce stroke risk

By: HealthDay News

Many people take coffee or tea breaks throughout the day, and that simple act may help them reduce their risk for stroke, Japanese researchers report.

This study of about 83 000 people suggests that drinking green tea or coffee daily might lower stroke risk by about 20%, with even more protection against a specific type of stroke.

“The regular action of daily drinking [of] green tea and coffee is a benefit in preventing stroke,” said lead researcher Dr Yoshihiro Kokubo, chief doctor in the department of preventive cardiology at the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center, in Osaka.

“If you cannot readily improve your lifestyle, try to prevent stroke by drinking green tea every day,” he said.

The link between coffee and tea

Although it isn’t certain why coffee and tea may have this effect, Kokubo thinks it might be due to certain properties in these drinks that keep blood from clotting.

In addition, green tea contains catechins, which have an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory effect. Some chemicals in coffee, such as chlorogenic acid, may cut the risk of stroke by lowering the chances of developing type 2 diabetes, he explained.

Coffee also contains caffeine, which may have an impact on cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and may cause changes in insulin sensitivity, which affects blood sugar, he added.

One expert, Dr Ralph Sacco, past president of the American Heart Association, cautioned that this type of study cannot say for sure that the lower risk of stroke is really the result of drinking coffee or tea.

“Such association studies are still limited in [the] ability to tell whether it is some ingredients in the coffee or tea or some other behavior common to coffee and tea drinkers that is driving the protective effects,” said Sacco, chairman of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

How the study was done

“There have been other studies, however, that have suggested some beneficial effects of coffee and tea on brain health, so the evidence is accumulating that there are some important simple dietary ways we can improve our health,” Sacco said.

The report was published online March 14 in the journal Stroke.

For the study, Kokubo’s team collected data on roughly 83 000 men and women, 45 to 74 years old, asking about how much green tea and coffee they drank.

Over the course of the study, the researchers kept track of hospital records, death certificates and data about deaths from heart disease and stroke.

During an average of 13 years of follow-up, they found that those who had at least one cup of coffee a day lowered their risk for stroke about 20%.

And, compared to people who rarely drank green tea, people who drank two to three cups a day had a 14% lower risk of stroke and people who drank at least four cups lowered their risk by 20%.

The risk for a type of stroke called a haemorrhagic stroke, in which a blood vessel in the brain bursts and blood floods part of the brain, was cut by 32% among those who drank a cup of coffee or two cups of green tea daily. About 13% of strokes are hemorrhagic strokes, the researchers noted.

To be sure their findings related to coffee and tea, Kokubo’s group took into account factors such as age, sex, smoking, alcohol, weight, diet and exercise. People who drank green tea were more likely to exercise compared to non-drinkers, they noted.

More information

To learn more about stroke, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

via Green tea and coffee may reduce stroke risk | Health24.

7 Foods That Help Protect Your Skin from Harmful UV Rays

Before you soak up some sun now through Labor Day, maybe try munching on a few from the article below!

You know that a lot of foods are really good for you, but did you know that several actually have properties that can help protect your skin from the sun? Considering the intense rays many of us are exposed to this summer, everything helps, right?

Here’s a little more about how this works, and what foods to add to your diet for a little extra skin protection.

Science Indicates Foods Can be Skin Protective

According to the University of Maryland Medical System, eating certain foods can help protect against skin cancer. Though we don’t yet have scientific tests that have measured and compared various foods and their ability to protect the skin, research has shown that antioxidants may offer protection.

A study published in 2010 also came to similar conclusions, though it added that food nutrients can protect not only against skin cancer, but photo-oxidative damage that leads to skin aging. Scientists noted in the study that antioxidant vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, in addition to essential fatty acids, have demonstrated protective properties. They added that the presence of these nutrients in the traditional Greek-style Mediterranean diet may have contributed to the low levels of melanoma there, despite the population’s exposure to high levels of solar radiation.

“The increasing incidence of skin cancer despite the use of externally applied sun protection strategies,” said Niva Shapira, lead author, “alongside research showing that nutrients reduce photo-oxidative damage, suggest nutritional approaches could play a beneficial role in skin cancer prevention.”

Some of the Best Choices

Though many foods may offer sun protection, below are a few of those with the most promise so far, though we’re always finding out about new super foods.

1. Apples. Surprised? A Japanese study actually found that apple polyphenol extracts, particularly flavonids called “procyanidins,” inhibit skin cancer in mice. Another polyphenol, quercetin, protected DNA from human skin cancer cells.

2. Green Tea. Yes, it’s a beverage, but it’s got powerful antioxidants. The University of Maryland Medical Center says it contains polyphenols, potent antioxidants that have shown in studies to help prevent skin tumors from starting or growing.

3. Dark Chocolate. Another reason to indulge now and then, dark chocolate has powerful antioxidants that may help protect from sunburn.

4 and 5. Olive Oil and Tomato Paste. Did you need another reason for using these health-filled goodies, often critical in flavorful pasta sauces? Here it is. German studies found that those subjects consuming about 2 teaspoons of olive oil and about ¼ cup of tomato paste daily for 10 weeks experienced 35 percent less reddening when exposed to sunlamps than those who didn’t eat these items. In addition, research from the University of Michigan found that lycopene and other antioxidants in tomatoes can help prevent the skin from becoming sunburned.

6. Broccoli. Research from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine exposed areas of volunteers’ skin to intense ultraviolet light one to three days after applying a broccoli-sprout extract to the same area. The extract was all but rubbed away by the time of the exposure, but those areas had, on average, 37 percent less redness and inflammation. Simultaneous animal studies showed that mice treated with the extract had significantly fewer and smaller skin tumors after exposure to UV rays. Scientists say that broccoli turns on the body’s natural cancer-fighting machinery, and once turned on, it works for days. The lead researcher of the study recommended eating one-half cup of broccoli each day to protect against skin cancer.

7. Green, Leafy Vegetables. This includes kale, spinach, and chard. According to an Australian study, these could decrease skin cancer risk. Scientists studied over 1,000 adults living in Australia over an 11-year period, and found that increasing intakes of green leafy vegetables was associated with a 41 percent decreased risk of skin cancer. These vegetables are rich in folic acid, which plays a key role in DNA synthesis and repair. In addition, researchers also examined those participants that previously had skin cancer, and found that those who did had a 55 percent decrease in skin cancer with increasing intakes of green leafy vegetables. “Our findings show that higher intakes of green leafy vegetables may help prevent Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) tumors among people who have prior skin cancers,” the researchers stated.

via 7 Foods That Help Protect Your Skin from Harmful UV Rays / Cinco Vidas.