WHAT IS IT?
EGCG is a type of plant-based compound called catechin. Catechins are categorized into a larger group of plant compounds known as polyphenols. Polyphenols like EGCG have been shown to have free radical-scavenging abilities and other beneficial effects that help protect cells and tissues throughout the body. It isa powerful ionophore for zinc. It’s also known to reduce inflammation, aid weight loss, and help prevent heart and brain disease. Additionally, research suggests that catechins like EGCG may prevent certain chronic conditions including diabetes and some cancers. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24494192/ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20716914/
Because of these health benefits, Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is a unique plant compound that gets a lot of attention.
WHERE IS IT FOUND?
EGCG exists naturally in several plant-based foods. It’s most abundant in green tea leaves. The EGCG is probably best known for its role as the major active compound in green tea. Numerous health benefits associated with drinking green tea can be credited to its EGCG content. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24494192/
Remember from the TEA TIME podcast that green tea, white, oolong and black tea both come from the same plant the Camellia sinensis evergreen shrub. The nutrient-rich leaves are harvested, steamed, dried or heated to make tea. Black tea leaves are slightly more processed than green tea leaves, which lowers the flavonoid content and EGCG levels slightly. So EGCG is also found in smaller amounts in black tea. It is also in smaller quantities in white and oolong teas.
The best teas for EGCG, in order, are green tea, white tea, oolong tea, and decaf green tea. Decaffeination reduces the amount of healthy flavonoids in any type of tea.
EGCG is found in fruits like- cranberries, strawberries, kiwi, cherries, pears, peaches, apples and avocadoes.
It is also in nuts like- pecans, pistachios and hazelnuts
EGCG is also available as a dietary supplement usually sold in the form of an extract (for example green tea extract).
1.- Supports heart health- Research suggests that EGCG in green tea may support heart health by reducing blood pressure, cholesterol, and the accumulation of plaque in blood vessels. In an 8-week study in 33 people, taking 250 mg of EGCG-containing green tea extract daily resulted in a significant 4.5% reduction of LDL (bad) cholesterol. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23845542/ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19838489/
Another study in 56 people found significant reductions in blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammatory markers in those taking a daily dose of 379 mg of green tea extract over 3 months.
Also, according to Harvard Health Publishing, flavonoids help quell inflammation, and that in turn may reduce plaque buildup inside arteries, improve vascular reactivity, improve blood pressure and help lower LDL cholesterol levels.
These results are positive but more research is needed to better understand how EGCG in green tea may reduce heart disease risk.
2- Fights Oxidative Stress/Inflammation-
Much of EGCG’s claim to fame comes from its strong antioxidant capacity and potential to reduce stress and inflammation. Wild-child-Free radicals are highly reactive particles that can cause damage to your cells. Excessive free radical production leads to oxidative stress. As an antioxidant, EGCG protects your cells from damage associated with this oxidative stress and calms the activity of pro-inflammatory chemicals produced in your body. Stress and inflammation are linked to a variety of chronic illnesses, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. So, the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of EGCG are thought to be one of the main reasons for its broad disease-preventing actions.
Link to study with EGCG and CLL from the Mayo clinic (for my dad) titled- Green Tea Extract Appears to Keep Cancer in Check in Majority of CLL Patients
Also a link to a paper/study calling for further studies in the International Journal of Molecular Science titled- Protective Effect of Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate (EGCG) in Diseases with Uncontrolled Immune Activation: Could Such a Scenario Be Helpful to Counteract COVID-19? https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/21/14/5171/htm
There are many studies and published articles on the benefits of EGCG.
3- Brain health- Early research suggests that EGCG in green tea may play a role in improving neurological cell function and preventing degenerative brain diseases. Researchers believe that EGCG has neuroprotective benefits due to its antioxidant effects and ability to invoke a range of cellular mechanisms in the brain. Drinking green tea has been linked to increased protection against neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
Some studies have found that catechins can help reverse neural damage and prevent further neural death, decreasing declines in cognitive function as people age. A number of large studies have found that adults who consume two to three cups of green tea daily for several years, experience 30% to 40% lower risk of developing Parkinson’s. In addition to suppressing cognitive dysfunction, EGCG may help increase learning ability by reducing oxidative damage in the brain.
4. Weight Loss- EGCG may also promote weight loss, especially when taken alongside the caffeine naturally found in green tea. Many of the study results on EGCG’s effect on weight are inconsistent, yet some long-term observational research noted that consuming about 2 cups of green tea per day was associated with lower body fat and weight. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK299060/
While not a quick fix for weight loss, there’s some evidence demonstrating that this compound can protect against metabolic syndrome and promote fat loss in several ways. 1. by decreasing inflammation 2. suppressing your appetite
3. increasing energy expenditure. As stated before, consumption of two or more cups daily has been linked to a healthier body composition in certain studies.
5. Ionophore- Zinc requires an ionophore to carry the zinc ions past the lipid bilayer of the cell membrane into the cytoplasm of human cells. Quercetin is one- review the podcast on quercetin. EGCG, a component of Green tea and the food we discussed earlier and Green Tea Extract (GTE), is one such zinc ionophore. The EGCG can latch on to the zinc ion and carry it into the cell cytoplasm, where the zinc inhibits a viral protein called replicase. Replicase (or RdRp) makes copies of viral RNA. The replicase protein complex (made up of several proteins) is blocked by zinc ions, preventing the virus from making copies of its RNA. This stops the virus from multiplying.
One cup (eight ounces) of brewed green tea naturally contains about 50–100 milligrams of EGCG.
Drinking one to four cups ( 8 oz/ each) daily is thought to be healthy for most adults and poses little risk, unless you are sensitive to caffeine or oxalates found in tea ( if you have a kidney issue). Consuming two to three cups per day of high-quality brewed green tea (not bottled, sweetened green tea) is a common recommendation by health experts if you’re looking to benefit from catechins.
There is currently no clear dosage recommendation for EGCG, though 800 mg daily for up to 4 weeks has been used safely in studies. A 400 mg pill of Green Tea Extract (GTE) is the equivalent of about 3 cups of regular green tea. The typical Green Tea Extract (GTE) pill contains about 50% EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) and another 30% other catechins. Be certain you are getting GTE which is in a “decaffeinated” form, so that you obtain the beneficial compounds (various catechins) without excess caffeine.
Possible side effects-
Taking supplemental doses (extract in pill form) of EGCG is not recommended if you’re pregnant, as it may interfere with the metabolism of folate — a B vitamin essential for fetal growth and development.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22641606/ People suffering from renal failure, liver disease or certain heart conditions and those people who take medications daily to control your cholesterol or blood pressure levels, talk to your doctor before supplementing.
Some EGCG supplements have been associated with serious side effects, such as liver and kidney failure, dizziness, low blood sugar, anemia. These negative effects may be related to toxic contamination of the supplements and not the EGCG itself so you should be very cautious if you’re considering taking this supplement and research the quality and manufacturing source before buying!
EGCG stands for epigallocatechin gallate. It’s a type of plant compound called a catechin that is found most abundantly in green tea leaves. EGCG benefits and uses include fighting inflammation and oxidative stress, supporting heart health and metabolic function, supporting weight loss, and protecting the brain against degeneration. It is also a powerful ionophore to help zinc into the cytoplasm of the cell. In the next few years, look for more exciting results from studies with EGCG.
You can easily start getting the benefits from EGCG by switching the calorie laden nutrient poor soft drinks and sip a cup of hot green tea.