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Protective properties of green tea uncovered
Date:1/5/2011

and a protein known as beta-amyloid.

Previous studies have shown that compounds known as polyphenols, present in black and green tea, possess neuroprotective properties, binding with the toxic compounds and protecting the brain cells.

When ingested, the polyphenols are broken down to produce a mix of compounds and it was these the Newcastle team tested in their latest research.

"It's one of the reasons why we have to be so careful when we make claims about the health benefits of various foods and supplements," explains Dr Okello.

"There are certain chemicals we know to be beneficial and we can identify foods which are rich in them but what happens during the digestion process is crucial to whether these foods are actually doing us any good."

Carrying out the experiments in the lab using a tumour cell model, they exposed the cells to varying concentrations of the different toxins and the digested green tea compounds.

Dr Okello explained: "The digested chemicals protected the cells, preventing the toxins from destroying the cells.

"We also saw them affecting the cancer cells, significantly slowing down their growth.

"Green tea has been used in Traditional Chinese medicine for centuries and what we have here provides the scientific evidence why it may be effective against some of the key diseases we face today."

The next step is to discover whether the beneficial compounds are produced during digestion after healthy human volunteers consume tea polyphenols. The team has already received funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to take this forward.

Dr Okello adds: "There are obviously many factors which together have an influence on diseases such as cancer and dementia - a good diet, plenty of exercise and a healthy lifestyle are all important."


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Contact: Dr. Ed Okello
e.j.okello@ncl.ac.uk
44-191-222-5175
Newcastle University
Source:Eurekalert

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