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Free Radicals & Cellular Damage - Oxygen is essential for all human beings. Once taken into the body, oxygen triggers the burning of glucose and fat. Humans live on the energy produced through this oxidation process.
However, stress, ultraviolet rays, cigarette smoke, and vigorous workouts tend to cause oxygen to change into free radicals affecting metabolism.

Free radical atoms or groups of atoms can kill germs once they enter the body. However, they can also join readily with other compounds to attack cells and cause a great deal of damage to the body. An overabundance of free radicals in the body can lead to infections and various degenerative diseases such as heart disease and cancer. It alters the way cells code genetic material, and speeds up the aging process as well. If this occurs in one’s body, SOD (Superoxide Dismutase), a defending enzyme, removes oxygenic poison.

Free radicals cause the following damage:
- Damage to genes leading to cancer.

- Oxidation of cholesterol, changing it into “bad” cholesterol which causes arterial sclerosis and high blood pressure.

- Narrowing of blood vessels which may cause thrombosis such as cerebral infarction (stroke) and cardiac infarction (heart attack), and deteriorates functions of tissues due to blockage of blood flow.

- Oxidation of cell walls deteriorating functions of organs and causing aging effects such as wrinkling.

- Ultraviolet rays also produce free radicals which create melanin, causing skin blotches and freckles.
Green Tea: The Antioxidant - A number of green tea’s ingredients fight free radical cell damage in the body when oxidation occurs. Substances that eliminate free radicals exist in nature, like plant tannin and flavonoids.

An Italian study found that while green tea was six times more potent in inhibiting lipid peroxidation in vitro, when healthy human subjects ingested the same amount of either black or green tea, the plasma antioxidant capacity (expressed as TRAP, or total radical-trapping antioxidant parameter) was similar in both groups.

The increase in plasma antioxidant capacity was quite rapid, peaking at 30-50 minutes. This indicates that the most bioactive antioxidant compounds are quickly absorbed in the upper part of the gastrointestinal system.

Catechin the active ingredient in green tea, is ranked high for its antioxidant properties. Besides tannin, vitamins such as vitamin A (carotene), C, and E are well known for their antioxidant qualities. Green tea contains all of these in significant amounts and is the most powerful antioxidant beverage known today. Green tea is extremely beneficial in the elimination of free radicals.Research aimed at finding the active compounds in green tea revealed that its protective effects are due chiefly to catechins. Powerful polyphenolic antioxidants, catechins are astringent, water-soluble compounds that can be easily oxidized. Numerous recent studies continue to confirm that green tea polyphenols have powerful anti-carcinogenic, cardioprotective, neuroprotective and anti-microbial actions. A particularly bioactive catechin called epigallocatechin gallate has been singled out by many researchers as very important for cancer prevention.

Try our catechin green tea which is specifically grown and produced to maximize green tea the antioxidant effect due to the high level of catechin this tea contains. For those specifically interested in maximizing green teas health benefits.

Antioxidants in Food Items (SOD=Superoxide Dismutase) Food SOD (unit/g)
1. Green Tea leaves
120,000
2. Coffee (Instant)
28,000
3. Wheat Germ (fresh)
4,900
4. Papaya (fresh)
380
5. Green Pepper (fresh)
310
6. Spinach (fresh)
140
8. Lemon (juice)
140
8. Gingko (fresh)
94
9. Tomato (fresh)
90
10. Carrot (fresh)
26

Green Tea Antioxidant Research - Green tea provides a wealth of simple phenolics; black tea provides more complex polyphenols. There is some controversy about which group has higher antioxidant potential in vivo.
An Italian study found that while green tea was six times more potent in inhibiting lipid peroxidation in vitro, when healthy human subjects ingested the same amount of either black or green tea, the plasma antioxidant capacity (expressed as TRAP, or total radical-trapping antioxidant parameter) was similar in both groups.

The increase in plasma antioxidant capacity was quite rapid, peaking at 30-50 minutes. This indicates that the most bioactive antioxidant compounds are quickly absorbed in the upper part of the gastrointestinal system.

Interestingly, while the addition of milk did not diminish antioxidant activity of either black or green tea in vitro, it completely abolished it in vivo, according to an Italian study. Some authors, however, think that skim milk does not significantly interfere with the absorption of polyphenols.

One study found green tea polyphenols to be comparable to BHT (a well-known synthetic phenolic antioxidant) in antioxidant power when it came to protecting canola oil; green tea outperformed BHT when the oil was heated.

Catechins have also been found to outperform Vitamin C and beta-carotene ten times in scavenging the alkyl peroxyl radical. One study found green tea polyphenols to be more potent antioxidants than Vitamin C, Vitamin E, rosemary extract, and even curcumin in some systems.

One of the antioxidant properties of green tea catechins is their ability to protect against the ravages of oxidized linoleic acid - an omega-6 fatty acid usually consumed in excess in the Western world, from sources such as margarine, safflower oil and corn oil; excess linoleic acid (most likely in the peroxidized form, which activates various pro-inflammatory enzymes) is involved in promoting inflammation, tumor growth, and most degenerative disorders. Few people are aware that when polyunsaturated cooking oils are heated, the result is carcinogenic peroxides. A recent study discovered that catechins synergize with alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E) to protect against oxidative damage by oxidized linoleic acid before this fatty acid is incorporated into cell membranes.

Catechins also have a sparing effect on Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) and beta-carotene, resulting in overall greater antioxidant protection of the polyunsaturated fatty acids that are incorporated into cell membranes. The sparing effect on tocopherol may be due to the fact that catechins are effective scavengers of aqueous oxygen radicals, and thus prevent their entry into the lipids, where these radicals would oxidize alpha-tocopherol. It is also possible that catechins can regenerate the antioxidant power of alpha-tocopherol by donating a hydrogen molecule to its oxidized form. Thus it appears that green tea polyphenols, like flavonoids in general, boost the levels of other antioxidants.

Of special interest is the ability of catechins to inhibit the dangerous peroxynitrite free radical, a strong reactant oxidant formed when the potent free radical superoxide encounters nitrogen-containing compounds such as nitric oxide. Peroxynitrite destroys proteins, as well as vital antioxidants such as glutathione and Vitamin E. Green tea catechins were shown to be more effective than Trolox, a synthetic antioxidant, in protecting critical amino acids such as tyrosine and the amino acids of apolipoprotein B in LDL cholesterol against nitration damage by the peroxynitrite radical.

Another interesting recent discovery concerns one particular green tea polyphenol called epicatechin. This particular polyphenol appears to be metabolized to an anthocyanin-like compound that is also an antioxidant, offering particularly long-lasting protection.
Returning to the question of antioxidant properties of simple catechins in green tea versus the complex polymeric polyphenols in black tea, a new study found that in lipids the simple compounds were more effective, while in aqueous conditions polymers had more activity, but only up to a point. Glycosylation, meaning cross-linking with glucose, decreased the antioxidant properties of all compounds tested.
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