*Researchers at Cedars-Sinai, working with UCLA, recently studied the effects of green tea on high cholesterol.
Using EGCG, the strongest antioxidant in green tea, they tested mice genetically susceptible to atherosclerosis, a condition which can block arteries, during high cholesterol conditions.
The mice were divided into two categories:
Both categories then received either EGCG from green tea or a placebo.
73% fewer new artery blockages after 42 days
After the first 21 days of daily EGCG from green tea, mice had 55% fewer new artery blockages during high cholesterol (hypercholesteremic) conditions.
Then, after 42 days of daily EGCG from green tea, the mice had an amazing 73% fewer new blockages (KY Chyu et al, Differential effects of green tea-derived catechin on developing versus established atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-null mice, Circulation, May 2004).
In other words, daily green tea antioxidants for 42 days prevented 73% of high cholesterol buildup and new blockages in arteries in genetically susceptible mice under conditions guaranteed to create artery blockages as were seen in the mice that received only a placebo.
Since green tea clearly prevented new blockages, but did not affect established blockages, scientists say this new finding may explain some of the mixed results from green tea high cholesterol clinical studies with people.
Clinical trials usually select people with diagnosed and established atherosclerosis blockages for double-blind studies, while animal studies start with animals before atherosclerosis damage occurs.
Another green tea high cholesterol study showing prevention of atherosclerosis is: J Suzuki et al, Dietary consumption of green tea catechins attenuate hyperlipidaemia-induced atherosclerosis and systemic organ damage in mice, Acta Cardiology, June 05.
Green tea high cholesterol studies show unique protection for arteries
Research shows that green tea acts in multiple pathways to prevent damage from high cholesterol.
One of the more important pathways involves stopping cholesterol from going "bad."
A portion of all cholesterol is called LDL cholesterol because of the low-density lipoprotein molecule that acts as a transporter.
LDL cholesterol is especially vulnerable to damage from oxidation causing it to turn into "bad" cholesterol that creates blockages.
Multiple green tea high cholesterol studies have shown that green tea prevents LDL oxidation and protects arteries from atherosclerosis.
Research also shows that green tea decreases chemicals that promote atherosclerosis like MMP-2 (El-Bedoui 05, Maeda 03), and angiotensin II (multiple studies).
It inhibits artery wall overgrowth that allows atherosclerosis to progress to arteriosclerosis.
In addition, green tea catechins protect the nitric oxide cycle (Steffen 05). This may be important because changes in the nitric oxide cycle have been implicated in increased heart attacks after abrupt cessation of some classes of heart drugs like beta-blockers, calcium-channel blockers, and statins.
Green tea also tests well compared to probucol, a drug used to lower cholesterol (Yokozawa T et al, Antioxidative activity of green tea polyphenol in cholesterol-fed rats, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, June 2002).
Your circulatory system is huge
Preventing damage from high cholesterol is a big job. Your blood vessels are similar to a road that is about 60,000 miles (96,500 km) long.
They could circle the earth's equator almost two and a half times.
You can imagine the amount of work it takes to protect, maintain, and repair your blood vessels over that 60,000 mile length.
For a project this big, you need a good health plan to help protect yourself from damage from high cholesterol.
Your lifestyle strategies make all the difference
One of the most important strategies in a good health plan for high cholesterol is improving your daily diet.
The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends more strict reductions of high cholesterol foods, and high saturated fat food for people with high cholesterol. Avoiding trans fat foods is also important for your arteries.
Along with reducing fat intake, you can add healthy choices to your daily life. This strategy may include daily green tea, five vegetable selections, and increasing culinary spices.
People with high cholesterol should check with their health care provider before starting health plan strategies like appropriate daily exercise, stress management behaviors, or comprehensive programs to reduce overweight or belly fat. Smokers with high cholesterol should get help to stop smoking.
Over 50 million Americans currently have high cholesterol.
High cholesterol is also considered a serious global problem, especially in developed nations.
More about cholesterol and your health
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This page last updated by Sharon Jones.
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