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Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2008 Dec;78(6):275-81. doi: 10.1024/0300-9831.78.6.275.

Health potential for functional green teas?

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Unilever R&D Vlaardingen, Vlaardingen, The Netherlands.


Obesity is a major health problem in the developed and developing world. Many "functional" foods and ingredients are advocated for their effects on body composition but few have consistent scientific support for their efficacy. However, an increasing amount of mechanistic and clinical evidence is building for green tea. The tea plant is naturally rich in a group of antioxidants known as catechins. Unlike black tea, green tea production involves little processing and fermentation and therefore, green tea brews are rich in catechins. Green tea has been suggested to have a number of potential health benefits in areas such as cardiovascular disease, cancer prevention, glucose homeostasis and dental health. Although there is some promising evidence in all of these areas, more data from human intervention trials are needed. A lot of attention has lately been focused on the beneficial effects of green tea on body composition and particularly visceral fat, which has been shown to have a strong link with different components of the metabolic syndrome such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Most, but not all, of the positive results come from a number Asian studies, in which overweight subjects (men and women) consumed green tea for approximately 12 weeks. Finally, green tea may also have measurable acute effects on energy metabolism and fat oxidation and in particular during physical activity, as evidenced by other studies specifically looking at these endpoints. Small cumulative effects on energy metabolism could also be responsible for the longer-tem effects of green tea on body composition, and these long-term effects may also be most apparent in the context of moderate physical activity. However, more research is needed to further clarify the exact mechanisms of action and to extrapolate these findings to non-Asian populations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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