November 29, 2012 - Use your morning java as a quick pick me up before work? Forget coffee - it seems green tea has the key. A new study has found that the tea - already credited with providing a host of health benefits and can help improve memory and cognition.
Green tea is made solely from the leaves of Camellia sinensis that have undergone minimal oxidation during processing. It has become the raw material for extracts which are used in various beverages, health foods, dietary supplements, and cosmetic items. Users should be aware the some sources of green tea may contain excess levels of fluoride.
Researchers recruited 12 healthy men and divided them into two groups.
One group was given a drink containing a green tea extract, while a second group was given a placebo drink without the extract.
Then, using an MRI machine, scientists studied the effects of the two drinks on the men's brains while they performed a memory test.
Compared to the placebo group, the green tea drinkers experienced an increase in the activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with working memory, which you need for problem solving and focus.
The results of the new study are reported in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Green tea is full of polyphenols, which widen blood vessels, speeding the supply of blood to the brain, like EGCG, a strong anti-cancer chemical.
Researchers have found these health giving chemicals might be behind green tea's benefits.
Study co-author Stefan Borgwardt, of the University Hospital Basel, in Switzerland, said: 'Green tea may help prevent neurotransmitters involved in brain functioning, like dopamine and epinephrine, from degrading.
'It may also inhibit senile plaques from depositing in the brain, which impairs cognition.'
Green tea can help protect against diabetes, as it contains polyphenols which inhibit starch, and so can help lower blood sugar levels.
The tea can also prevent bad breath by killing oral bacteria that cause cavities and bad breath.
Green tea guards against hepatitis by decreasing iron levels throughout the body, including those in the liver - the cause of viral hepatitis.
The tea can protect against cancer as it contains a compound called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which helps inhibit blood vessel growth.
It can help prevent arthritis, working in much the same way as anti-inflammatory drugs.
Gargling with the tea boosts immunity to influenza and flu, according to a study in Japan.
A study also found 96 percent of those who drank ten cups of green tea a day showed no signs of the cognitive impairment linked to Alzheimer's, compared to only 12 percent who didn't drink green tea.
April McCarthy is a community journalist playing an active role reporting and analyzing world events to advance our health and eco-friendly initiatives.