NOV 02, 2021 5:00 AM PDT

Green Tea Isn't an Antioxidant After All (But It's Still Good for You)

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandes

Green tea has long been touted as the elixir of youth—high concentrations of chemicals called polyphenols were believed to have powerful antioxidant effects, promoting wellness. 

However, a new study has revealed new, contradictory insights on green tea’s impact on a cellular level. Previously, polyphenols were thought to dampen oxidative stress or the accumulation of potentially damaging free radicals produced as a byproduct of metabolism. Now, Michael Ristow and researchers from ETH Zurich say polyphenols temporarily elevate levels of oxygen free radicals instead. 

Does this mean you should put that matcha latte down? No, suggest the results of the study published in the journal Aging, which say that these biochemical changes triggered by polyphenols boost the immune system. 

“That means green tea polyphenols, or catechins, aren’t in fact antioxidants, but rather pro-oxidants that improve the organism’s ability to defend itself, similar to a vaccination,” said Ristow

In their study, the scientists used a worm model to study the effect of polyphenols on longevity. They found that by supplementing the nematodes’ diet with green tea catechins, they lived longer and were more resistant to disease. 

The team identified that these effects were due to the activation of enzyme-producing genes that eliminate free radicals. Exposure to polyphenols ramped up the production of superoxide dismutase and catalase in the worms.

According to the researchers, the results observed in nematodes should mirror those that we can expect to see in humans—the biochemical pathways involved in eliminating free radicals in cells have been conserved across millions of years of evolution.

Interestingly, the authors say that the same reduction in oxidative stress can be achieved through calorie restriction. A 2009 study led by Ristow showed that mice on a calorie-restricted diet lived longer than those that ate a regular, high-calorie diet. 



 

About the Author
PhD
Interested in health technology and innovation.
You May Also Like
JAN 27, 2022
Immunology
Chemical in Plastic Could Impair Fetal Brain Development
JAN 27, 2022
Chemical in Plastic Could Impair Fetal Brain Development
Plastics are devastating the environment, and a growing body of research is pointing to how they can also negatively imp ...
FEB 25, 2022
Cancer
Does Exercise Help Prep Tumors for Surgery?
FEB 25, 2022
Does Exercise Help Prep Tumors for Surgery?
Esophageal cancer, also known as cancer of the food pipe, gullet cancer, or oesophageal cancer, develops in the tube tha ...
MAR 14, 2022
Cancer
Expanded Approval for the PD-1 Blocking Immunotherapy Opdivo
MAR 14, 2022
Expanded Approval for the PD-1 Blocking Immunotherapy Opdivo
Over the past decade, immunotherapy drugs known as immune checkpoint inhibitors have emerged as a promising an ...
APR 20, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Vitamin E Stimulates Dendritic Cells, Boosts Immunotherapy Effectiveness
APR 20, 2022
Vitamin E Stimulates Dendritic Cells, Boosts Immunotherapy Effectiveness
Dendritic cells play an important role in the immune system. Specifically, they help gather up antigen-presenting cells ...
APR 22, 2022
Immunology
How Diet Affects Your Immune System
APR 22, 2022
How Diet Affects Your Immune System
Our immune system plays a vital role in our bodies, as it is literally responsible for keeping us healthy and free of ha ...
MAY 20, 2022
Health & Medicine
Second COVID Boosters Not Recommended for All Adults
MAY 20, 2022
Second COVID Boosters Not Recommended for All Adults
In previous studies in Israel, vaccine-induced COVID immunity was reported to decrease as early as three  ...
Loading Comments...