Catechins - what is it? Most likely, such a question will occur to everyone who comes across this term. But really, what is this substance? At first glance, it seems that this is some kind of chemical compound or even animals of a species never seen before. And sometimes it reminds of something from science fiction. In reality, everything is not so transcendental, and this term is directly related to plants.
General information about the substance
Catechins are phenolic compounds of organic origin. These substances are characterized by a rather strong antioxidant effect and take an active part in the metabolism of plants.
In addition, they belong to the group of flavonoids and can be part of a number of vegetables, fruits, berries. In particular, these are:
- Green and white tea.
- Wild strawberries.
According to some scientists, especially a lot of this substance in high-quality dark chocolate. There it is two times more than in berries. Catechins of green tea have their own chemical formula - C 15 H 14 O 6 .
Something More About Catechins
Catechins owe their name to the acacia variety that grows in Pakistan and India. The locals prepare an extract called catechu from the wood of this plant. A substance of organic origin is characterized by a colorless crystalline structure. At the same time, its uniqueness is due to its very high antioxidant properties - 50 times higher than that of vitamin E, and twenty times higher than that of vitamin C.
The highest concentration of catechins among all other products in green tea (27%) and cocoa beans. In classic black tea, which most people love even more than its green varieties, the content of these substances is not more than 4%. Maybe that's why green tea is revered by many connoisseurs as a healthy product?
In order to delve deeper into the essence of what these catechins are, one should pay attention to where else they were discovered. In particular, these are representatives of berry and fruit crops:
There are also other sources - this is red wine, raisins, rhubarb, barley.
The value of green tea
What properties does green tea have, what is it considered to be a truly unique and useful product for the human body? This drink includes four main components of catechin:
- EGCg (epigallocatechin gallate).
If you drink one cup of green tea per day, you can saturate your body with polyphenols in an amount of 10 to 40 mg. The strengthening properties of this drink have been familiar to mankind since ancient times. It is no coincidence that in China many people have appreciated green tea for quite a long period of time as a medicine. Apparently they knew very well about catechins - what it is and what they are for.
As for the chemical composition, it is very diverse: about 300 compounds were discovered, and many of them have not yet been studied. Green tea includes 17 varieties of amino acids, vitamins PP, A, K, E, C, as well as group B (B1, B2) and many others.
In order for tea to bring as much benefit as possible, it is important to brew it correctly. To do this, use a heated ceramic kettle, the water should be 90 ° C and no more. You should also consider the ratio - 1 teaspoon per 1 glass of water. Insist from 2 to 3 minutes, nothing more.
The benefits of green tea are known to many, although not to everyone's taste, this truly valuable and healthy drink. What can not be said about chocolate - not every lover of sweets guesses about its useful qualities.
The name of the tree that bears the fruit of cocoa (Theobroma cacao) is translated from Greek as "food of the gods." At that time, when the Aztecs lived, and this was about 30 centuries ago, these fruits were used as a currency. Even then, people made a drink out of them and consumed it not only as a treat: for many it was a medicine. With the help of this drug, it was possible to reduce the fever or to heal skin diseases. That is, what it is - catechins, mankind knew many centuries ago.
Currently, many people call chocolate nothing more than “sweet aspirin”. And all thanks to its ability to thin the blood, relieve sore throat. In addition, using this wonderful product, familiar from ancient times, you can prevent the formation of cholesterol in blood vessels.
But for most of us, this delicacy is especially appreciated due to its wondrous taste and ability to cheer up. Chocolate not only contributes to the activation of endorphin production, which is known to us as the hormone of happiness, but also contains a lot of other equally useful substances. According to its chemical composition, it contains:
- Antioxidants: polyphenols, catechins, flavonoids.
- Antidepressants: serotonin, phenylethylamine, tryptophan.
However, it should be remembered that its daily rate should not exceed 30 g, which is comparable to the third tile.
There is no doubt that the benefits of catechins in green tea can hardly be underestimated. This drink does not have any serious side effects, however, it contains caffeine. And now it is just dangerous in case of an overdose. Excessive amounts of it cause bouts of nausea, vomiting, dizziness, lethargy, muscle tremor. Due to excess EGCG, a number of drugs are suppressed. In particular, we are talking about anticoagulants (warfarin).
Today on sale are sold nutritional supplements with the inclusion of EGCG. In addition to the compounds mentioned, their chemical composition is supplemented by other plant components. It can be theobromine, willow bark extract and yohimbine.
It seems that such a combination should contribute to enhancing the beneficial effects, dietary in particular. But on the other hand, this implies the presence of a number of additional side effects.
Green tea diet effect
Catechins - what is it for humans? For those who are still not up to date, a weighty and scientifically proven argument can be made: under the influence of these substances, you can lose weight. How does this happen? The thing is that thanks to these substances the human body is forced to spend more energy. Thus, there is an increase in the consumption of nutrients that contribute to its production. In other words, their own accumulated fat is consumed, as a result of which a person loses weight.
According to some reports, with the regular use of green tea with catechins (within acceptable limits, of course), weight loss can be accelerated up to 60%. In particular, the catechins in this dietary drink contribute to the absorption of fat from the abdomen.
As some scientists from the University of Chicago suggest, gallate epigallocatechin or EGCg somehow affects hunger hormones, thereby helping to reduce appetite.
As for the hormones mentioned that control hunger, there are 8 of them:
- Insulin is the "storekeeper."
- Leptin is a satiety hormone.
- Ghrelin is the hormone of hunger.
- Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) gives a feeling of fullness with food.
- Cholecystokinin is a satiety hormone.
- The YY peptide controls appetite.
- Neuropeptide Y stimulates appetite, increases craving for carbohydrates.
- Cortisol is a stress hormone.
How exactly EGCg affects these hormones for many scientists is still a big mystery.
Other observations of pundits
For the full and proper functioning of neurons in the human brain, it is necessary to have a special protein, which has a very sonorous name - the neurotrophic factor of the brain or BDNF. Its number in people forced to live with HIV (PLHIV) is significantly reduced. For this reason, these patients may have HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders, and they are more prone to depression.
Now let us mention one more argument in favor of thinking about where the catechins are. Scientists have made the discovery that the production of BDNF protein increases under the influence of catechins, in particular epicatechin and EGCg. To do this, they had to study more than 2 thousand varieties of substances, including plant origin and medicinal analogues, which are approved for use. At the same time, 9 types of substances were associated with epicatechin, which is a lot in cocoa beans and green tea leaves.
Other studies are no less interesting and striking. For example, one of them was attended by 18 thousand inhabitants of China. Some of them regularly consumed tea with a high content of catechins. According to the results, it turned out that those people who drank a healing drink, thereby reducing the risk of developing stomach cancer by 50% (than those who drank it rarely or completely refused it).
At the same time, in another study, which was conducted in the Netherlands and where 120 thousand people took part, no connection between the beneficial properties of catechins and the development of cancerous tumors was found.
The term metabolic syndrome should be understood as a whole complex of hormonal and clinical disorders. In fact, the following are the fundamental factors leading to the development of various pathologies:
- cardiovascular diseases;
- increased cholesterol;
- increase in blood pressure.
Catechins in foods, berries or tea, and in this case, provide invaluable assistance, preventing serious changes in metabolism. These substances increase insulin sensitivity and reduce oxidative stress.
Every year, the bone structure has a tendency to thinning, as a result of which the bones become porous and therefore more fragile. This happens in the human body under the influence of oxidative processes. Due to the fact that catechins have powerful antioxidants, the effect of free radicals is neutralized.
Ultimately, when these substances enter the body, the risk of developing diseases, which are usually caused by bone fragility, is markedly reduced.