Inflammation is a major danger behind heart disease. Antioxidants reduce inflammation. This is why they play such a crucial role for heart health.
Mother Nature provides a wide variety of dietary antioxidants. The single most studied of these is a group of substances called polyphenolics. A 2013 review of the heart health benefits of polyphenolics confirmed their role in reducing the incidence of cardiovascular disease.
One of the stars of the show in that review was green tea (Camellia sinensis). Green tea contains a rich array of polyphenolics, including perhaps the greatest herbal antioxidant of all, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate).
More recently, a 2016 study in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that polyphenolics in a number of herbs, including green tea, protect against the age-related production of inflammatory hormones. Once again, green tea was one of the top anti-inflammatory herbs.
Many Roles of EGCG for Heart Health
More than 5,000 research articles about EGCG are listed on PubMed, the online medical database of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Studies of this powerful antioxidant continue to reveal its multiple modes of action for cardiovascular benefits.
Four of its most important attributes for heart health include:
- As an antioxidant, EGCG reduces the effects of reactive oxygen species that can damage blood vessel walls.
- EGCG inhibits the enzyme, cyclooxeengase-2 (COX-2), which drives the production of highly inflammatory hormones that cause pain. In so doing, it mimics the actions of prescription drugs such as Celebrex and over-the-counter painkillers such as Ibuprofen.
- EGCG activates an enzyme that catalyzes the production of nitric oxide (NO) in blood vessel walls. Boosting the levels of arterial NO causes arteries to relax and open up for better blood flow.
- EGCG is now thought of as a promising therapeutic for combating cardiovascular complications associated with obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.
Although this is only a partial summary of the benefits of EGCG for heart health, they point to green tea as the number one herbal antioxidant for heart health.
How to Increase Your EGCG Intake
Green tea is a great source of EGCG and other polyphenolics. However, drinking several cups of green tea every day might be inconvenient. It may even be unappealing if you prefer coffee as your morning wake-up beverage.
If you prefer other teas made from Camellia sinensis, you would have to drink even more. Green tea contains more than 7 grams of EGCG per 100 grams of dried leaves. However, in the same amount of dried leaf material, white tea contains a little over 4 grams and black tea less than half of that amount.
Polyphenolic content of different teas also varies according to where the plants are grown and how old the leaves are when harvested.
All this just means that getting enough EGCG in your diet depends on supplementation. The simplest thing you can do is take a supplement that contains green tea extract. No fuss, no muss.
Boosting your EGCG intake with a green tea supplement is a more reliable and convenient way to get enough of this and other polyphenolics that enhance your heart health.