Author: Tara Berman
Adapted from www.cityslim.com
Everywhere you turn these days, you can easily find yourself bombarded with campaigns advising you to “Go Green.” Go green to save the environment, to conserve energy… but to stop cancer? Yes, that’s right. Now, you can go green (in terms of your tea selection) to save, well… yourself!
Green tea stands apart from other teas due to its possession of a special ingredient: EGCG, or Epigallocatechin-3-gallate. This biologically-active constituent of green tea imparts numerous health benefits to its drinkers, such as alleviating rheumatoid arthritis, improving the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to bad (LDL) cholesterol, preventing cardiovascular disease and infection, and improving impaired immune function.[i] However, the most compelling evidence of the powers of EGCG becomes evident when examining its effects on various types of cancers.
A powerful antioxidant, EGCG has been shown to inhibit growth of ovarian cancer cells and sensitize them to certain anticancer drugs.[ii] In the laboratory where I work at Columbia University, studies have recently been published examining the mechanism by which EGCG inhibits colon cancer cell lines in vitro.[iii] Moreover, our laboratory was the first to propose a novel mechanism by which EGCG exerts anticancer effects in various experimental systems. EGCG has been proposed to target multiple components in cancer cell membranes, thereby disrupting several aspects of membrane organization and function.[iv] Myriad other laboratory studies demonstrate the natural anti-cancer effect of EGCG in the inhibition of the growth and development of tumors in a vast array of human cancers.
Overall, the results of EGCG's anticancer effects look promising. However, Dr. I Bernard Weinstein, Director Emeritus of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Research Center (ICRC) and head of an ICRC oncology laboratory, advises that before we can go around telling people to drink tea, more studies are needed on smaller doses. "The doses our laboratory works with are very high; the amount of EGCG we use would be the equivalent of about 8-10 cups of tea." While we cannot be sure that the benefits of EGCG hold true for lower doses, the live-saving potential of EGCG certainly exists.
Not a fan of drinking tea? You can still get your fix of EGCG without the brew!
Kashi Heart to Heart Toasted Oat Cereal
I've been eating Kashi's tasty Heart to Heart Toasted Oat Cereal for years, but I have only recently discovered the "green tea extract" hidden amongst the other heart-healthy ingredients on the nutrition panel. Eat your EGCG daily with this crunchy, honey-sweetened breakfast. Bonus: Heart to Heart also includes the anti-oxidants beta-carotene, grapeseed extract, lycopene, and vitamin E. Approximately $3.75/box.
Made by the Tze The company, this nutrition bar boasts 130 mg of EGCG and 4 g of fiber, with a Rice Krispy Treat-esque consistency. Three grams of green tea leaves combined with brown rice and other whole grains give an earthy, but sweet, taste to this healthy treat. Approx. $18/dozen.
Luna Tea Cakes
With 130 calories and 1.5 g of fat and described as a "cross between a cookie and an energy bar," Luna Tea Cakes are baked with green tea. The vanilla-macadamia variety has over 80 mg of EGCG, as well as about 3 g each of protein and fiber. Approx. $16/dozen.
And finally, a company called Neuchatel produces Green Tea Chocolates, containing EGCG extract from Green Tea. However, Neuchatel has informed me that their chocolates, which come in varieties such as Dark Swiss Chocolate and Sugar-Free Milk Chocolate are created especially for people with cancer. These chocolates contain very high EGCG concentrations and are not recommended for the general public.
In the wise words of an ancient Chinese proverb: “Better to go three days without food than one without tea.” Go green!
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[ii] Chan MM, Soprano KJ, Weinstein K, Fong D. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate delivers hydrogen peroxide to induce death of ovarian cancer cells and enhances their cisplatin susceptibility. J Cell Physiol. 2006 May;207(2):389-96.
[iii], [iv] Adachi S, et al. The inhibitory effect of (-)-epigallocatechin gallate on activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor is associated with altered lipid order in HT29 colon cancer cells. Cancer Res. 2007 Jul 1;67(13):6493-501.
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