June 09, 2018

Molecule in Green Tea Could Be Key to Preventing Heart Attacks and Strokes

Green tea could hold the key to preventing deaths from heart attacks and strokes caused by atherosclerosis. A new research funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) indicates that a certain molecule in green tea could be the key to preventing mortality from heart attacks and strokes. The findings were published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

A compound found in green tea is being currently investigated for its ability to reduce amyloid plaques in the brain in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at the Lancaster University believe the compound may also dissolve dangerous protein plaques occurring in the blood vessels.

Atherosclerosis is the build-up of fatty material inside arteries that can reduce the flow of blood to the heart and brain. In advanced atherosclerosis, a protein called apolipoprotein A-1 (apoA-1), similar in structure to those associated with Alzheimer’s disease, is believed to form amyloid deposits which build up within atherosclerotic plaques, thereby increasing their size, making them less stable and further restricting blood flow through the vessels.

Researchers have now discovered that a molecule, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), commonly found in green tea, could bind to amyloid fibres of apoA-1, making them more soluble and less damaging. This could literally break up and dissolve potentially dangerous protein plaques found in the blood vessels.

The team is also looking at ways to introduce effective amounts of EGCG into the body without people having to consume large amounts of green tea. This may be possibly achieved through modification of its chemical structure, making it more resistant to metabolism, or delivering the molecules directly into the plaques. These could be available by means of medicines or pills.

David Middleton, Professor in Chemistry at Lancaster University is quoted as saying: “The health benefits of green tea have been widely promoted and it has been known for some time that EGCG can alter the structures of amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Our results show that this intriguing compound might also be effective against the types of plaques which can cause heart attacks and strokes.”

However, Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the BHF, says that there is no immediate reason to switch from drinking regular tea to green tea. Our bodies can break down EGCG, and drinking green tea is not likely to have a significant difference with respect to heart health, he adds.

Related reading: Saturated Fat Does Not Clog the Arteries And Does Not Cause Heart Attacks

The above article is reproduced from material entitled 'Green tea molecule could prevent heart attacks' as provided by Lancaster University. 2018 June 1. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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