Green tea has long been known for its antioxidants benefits, but new research is starting to show that it can also help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center discovered that the flavonoid ECGC, or epigallocatechin-3-gallate, found in green tea could bind to the toxic protein beta-amyloid, which collects in patients with Alzheimer’s causing many of its symptoms. ECGC bound to beta-amyloid best when calcium or zinc was present. Also, once bound, they were less likely to form into plaques that cause Alzheimer’s. This suggested that the shape it was turned into was less toxic than other forms of beta-amyloid.
In another study, researchers wanted to find out if a mixture of purified ECGC and resveratrol, which is an extract from red wine, could prevent amyloid balls from binding to proteins on nerve cells called prions. “We wanted to investigate whether the precise shape of the amyloid balls is essential for them to attach to the prion receptors, like the way a baseball fits snugly into its glove,” co-author of the study, Dr. Jo Rushworth said. “And if so, we wanted to see if we could prevent the amyloid balls binding to prion by altering their shape, as this would stop the cells from dying.” They found that the mixture did distort the shape of the amyloid balls that made them unable to bind to the prions.
Another study also found that green tea could boost memory. Researchers imaged the brains of 12 participants, using a MRI, while they performed memory stimulating tasks. The participants were given milk whey based soft drinks, but only some of them had green tea extract. When tested, those who had the drink with green tea showed more activity in the part of their brain that is responsible for processing working memory, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.
While these studies have shown the benefit of green tea extract, experts still say that the dosages are not high enough to be used as therapy, though there is no harm in drinking it.
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