It’s hardly news that drinking green tea is good for your general health, and it’s long been suspected that the health benefits of green tea include that it’s good for the memory, but recent research has revealed how the chemical properties of green tea affect the growth of brain cells. The research was published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.
Green tea’s well known health benefits
“Green tea is a popular beverage across the world,” said Professor Yun Bai from the Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China. “There has been plenty of scientific attention on its use in helping prevent cardiovascular diseases, but now there is emerging evidence that its chemical properties may impact cellular mechanisms in the brain.”
The research team, led by Prof. Bai, focused on the organic chemical EGCG, (epigallocatechin-3 gallate), a key consituent of green tea. While it is already known to be an anti-oxidant, the research team were of the opinion that it could also help prevent age-related degenerative diseases. The anti-oxidant properties of green tea are amongst its most well known health benefits, and are one reason why drinking green tea is so popular all over the world.
Research focused on the hippocampus
The team focused their work on the hippocampus, the area of the brain where short-term memories are processed and ultimately become long-term memories. Professor Bai says,
a process known as neurogenesis,”
It was found that EGCG boosts production of neural progenitor cells, which have the same property as stem cells, i.e. they can adapt or change into various other types of cells.
Tests were then done on mice to discover if this increased cell production had a beneficial impact on memory.
Then they were trained for seven days to find a hidden platform.”
Drink green tea – it’s good for your brain!
The results of the test showed that the EGCG-treated mice were quicker at finding the hidden platform, and that, overall, EGCG enhances memory and learning. There was no mention, however, of whether or not they preferred the green tea from a china cup!
For those of us without degrees in biology or chemistry, I think this, in a nutshell, backs the long-held belief that green tea is indeed good for the memory!
Drinking green tea is a bit of an acquired taste, and the subtle flavour can leave some people wondering what all the fuss is about. If anyone needed convincing that the health benefits of green tea make it a worthwhile drink, then this research should do the trick. I think knowing that it contains a chemical that can actually help grow new brain cells is quite a strong selling point.
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