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Green Tea: Anti-Inflammatory & Cardiovascular Benefits

Huntington College of Health Sciences

By Prof. Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG)
Huntington College of Health Sciences

For more than 3,000 years, green tea has been consumed as a refreshment and for its health promoting properties. In later years, this includes green tea extract form in dietary supplements for a variety of benefits. Chief among these are its well established antioxidant benefits1-3 and its thermogenic/fat oxidizing properties for weight loss.4-6 Less well known, however, are the anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits of green tea.

Anti-inflammatory Activity
Green tea contains a group of flavanols known as catechins, including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and others. These catechins have anti-inflammatory activity, as demonstrated by a reduction in the following inflammatory markers: leukotriene-B4, 5-lipoxygenase,7 COX-2 and nitric oxide synthase.8 In addition, EGCG and other catechins in green tea might reduce inflammation and protect cartilage by inhibiting proteoglycan and collagen breakdown,9 which may have positive implications for joints as seen in laboratory models of rheumatoid arthritis.10 Other examples of green tea’s anti-inflammatory effect include a reduction gum (gingival) inflammation,11 protection against sunburn inflammation,12 and a reduction in a marker of chronic inflammation as a cardiovascular risk factor.13

Cardiovascular Health
A population based study14 of 40,530 healthy adults aged 40 to 79 years found that the consumption of 3 or more cups of green tea daily for 11 years significantly decreases the risk of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality compared to drinking less than one cup daily, and this association was primarily related to a decrease in risk for stroke (cerebral infarction). In another population study of 1,371 men, aged 40 years or older, increased daily consumption of green tea resulted in significantly decreased serum levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), and triglycerides, while increasing HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). Moreover, there was a decrease in other serum markers of liver disease, especially when more than 10 cups of green tea daily was consumed.

Green tea has many health benefits to offer, and it is a worthwhile to encourage patients to include it as part of their daily routine. Drinking a few cups of green tea each day or, better yet, using a green tea extract high in polyphenols will provide a plethora of health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits.

1. Vertuani S, Bosco E, Braccioli E, Manfredini S. . Water soluble antioxidant capacity of different teas – determination by photochemiluminescence Nutrafoods. 2004;3(2):5-11
2. Luo M, Wahlqvist M, and O’Brien R. Inhibition of LDL oxidation by green tea extract. Lancet. 1997 Feb 1;349(9048):360-1.
3. Henning SM, Niu Y, Lee NH, et al. Bioavailability and antioxidant activity of tea flavanols after consumption of green tea, black tea, or a green tea extract supplement. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80(6):1558-64.
4. Wu CH, Lu FH, Chang CS, Chang TC, Wang RH, Chang CJ. Relationship among habitual tea consumption, percent body fat, and body fat distribution. Obes Res. 2003 Sep;11(9):1088-95.
5. Dulloo AG, Duret C; Rohrer D, et al. Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24 h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. Am J Clin Nutr 1999; 70(6):1040 5.
6. Auvichayapat P, Prapochanung M, Tunkamnerdthai O, et al. Effectiveness of green tea on weight reduction in obese Thais: A randomized, controlled trial. Physiol Behav 2008;93(3):486-91.
7. Choi JH, Chai YM, Joo GJ, et al. Effects of green tea catechin on polymorphonuclear leukocyte 5′-lipoxygenase activity, leukotriene B4 synthesis, and renal damage in diabetic rats. Ann Nutr Metab 2004;48:151-5.
8. Ahmed S, Rahman A, Hasnain A, et al. Green tea polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate inhibits the IL-1 beta-induced activity and expression of cyclooxygenase-2 and nitric oxide synthase-2 in human chondrocytes. Free Radic Biol Med 2002;33:1097-105.
9. Adcocks C, Collin P, Buttle DJ. Catechins from green tea (Camellia sinensis) inhibit bovine and human cartilage proteoglycan and type II collagen degradation in vitro. J Nutr 2002;132:341-6.
10. Haqqi TM, Anthony DD, Gupta S, et al. Prevention of collagen-induced arthritis in mice by a polyphenolic fraction from green tea. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1999;96:4524-9.
11. Krahwinkel T, Willershausen B. The effect of sugar-free green tea chew candies on the degree of inflammation of the gingiva. Eur J Med Res 2000;5:463-7.
12. Rhodes LE, Darby G, Massey KA, Clarke KA, Dew TP, Farrar MD, Bennett S, Watson RE, Williamson G, Nicolaou A. Oral green tea catechin metabolites are incorporated into human skin and protect against UV radiation-induced cutaneous inflammation in association with reduced production of pro-inflammatory eicosanoid 12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid. Br J Nutr. 2013 Sep 14;110(5):891-900.
13. Nantz MP, Rowe CA, Bukowski JF, Percival SS. Standardized capsule of Camellia sinensis lowers cardiovascular risk factors in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Nutrition. 2009 Feb;25(2):147-54.
14. Kuriyama S, Shimazu T, Ohmori K, et al. Green tea consumption and mortality due to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all-cause mortality. JAMA 2006;296:1255-65.


Gene Bruno

Professor Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, the Provost for Huntington College of Health Sciences, is a nutritionist, herbalist, writer and educator. For more than 37 years he has educated and trained natural product retailers and health care professionals, has researched and formulated natural products for dozens of dietary supplement companies, and has written articles on nutrition, herbal medicine, nutraceuticals and integrative health issues for trade, consumer magazines and peer-reviewed publications.
He can be reached at gbruno@hchs.edu.