Catechins: Unlocking the Medicine Cabinet in Your Food

Catechins: Unlocking the Medicine Cabinet in Your Food

Today, our society is facing a great health concern, a rise of new diseases, including Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, numerous cancers, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and more. Answers are not often found in some exotic, far away place, but by and large they can be found, right in front of us.

Catechins are not “the new kid on the block.”  They have served and interacted with us all of our life.  In the human body, catechins are like having a protective buddy with strong influence to clear the way. They have a stronger binding capacity and are known to chelate metal ions, especially iron ions that produce free radicals.

What Are Catechins?

Phytonutrients affect health but as they are not are not weighed in as being essential for life such as fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals are.

Biochemists classify catechins are flavanols, (closely related to flavonols, a sub-family of flavonoids) bioactive plant pigments having medicinal properties. These are “phytonutrients” or as they are currently described interchangeably as “phytochemicals.”  Plants produce chemical compounds (Phytochemicals), to thrive, thwarting off pathogens, predators, or competitors. Depending upon the plant, some phytochemicals can be poisonous while others give phytochemicals that have given us traditional medicine.

Why Catechins Matter

The human body does not produce phytonutrients. Only plants are able to produce phytonutrients, safeguarding themselves against environmental toxins, bacteria and viruses. Eating plants with phytonutrients gives the human body protection to block substances within the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the beverages we drink from turning into carcinogens.

Catechins improve skin, work as a high blood sugar preventative, and reduce oxidative stress to cells and DNA damage, as well as helping to repair DNA. The brighter the color the better dose of catechins, giving the body essential fuel and the protection it needs.

Catechin Characteristics

The catechin family has five primary members. Each of these five catechins is recognized for their active health-defending properties – chemically similar in their structure – but differing slightly in properties and potencies.

  • Epicatechin (EC)

Epicatechin is a powerful antioxidant helping to decrease Myostatin. Myostatin is catabolically, the single greatest limiting factor of muscle growth.

  • Gallocatechin (GC)

Gallocatechin has been shown to possess free radical scavenging ability, inhibiting adherence and growth of P. gingivalis on the buccal epithelial cells.

  • Epicatechin Gallate (ECG)

Epicatechin gallates are potent radical scavengers being extensively studied as chemo-preventative agents. Studies have shown ECGs to be effective in lessening oxidative DNA damage. It is an antioxidant, stopping the chain reaction of free radicals by preventing the control of electrons to cause damage. All this is done without destabilizing themselves.

  • Epigallocatechin (EGC)

Like gallocatechin, epigallocatechin has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

  • Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG)

Epigallocatechin gallates can regulate and fine tune pathways, adjust, soften, and alter lipids – the waxy or oily chains of carbon or hydrogen molecules – according to the circumstances, always adapting for homeostasis.

Green Tea & Catechins

Green tea is largely responsible for the positive health buzz surrounding catechins and its promising health benefits. About one-third of green tea dry leaf weight is catechins. Sixty-five percent of the total catechins found in green tea are the epigallocatechin gallates (EGCG), also known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate.  EGCG is prized as a compound useful in preventing and treating numerous diseases such as cancer, heart and neurodegenerative diseases. Epigallocatechin gallate catechins are a powerful anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral operative that affects molecular mechanisms as well as the regulation of cell death.

Food Filled Medicine

Catechins are an umbrella term for various compounds differing in concentrations and are present in many dietary products. The rich colors and taste in foods such as chocolate, wine and tea are produced from catechins.

Fruits, grains, legumes, teas, tree nuts and vegetables, are also good sources of catechins. For example:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Chocolate
  • Cocoa liquor
  • Cherries
  • Fava Beans
  • Gooseberries
  • Grapes
  • Grape Seed
  • Kiwi
  • Pears
  • Persimmons
  • Pomegranates
  • Purple Potatoes
  • Red Wine
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Potatoes

Blackberries top the list in high concentrations of catechins. Compared to green tea, this richly antioxidant fruit contains roughly fourteen times the amount of catechins.

Blueberries, cranberries, and raspberries aren’t far behind blackberries in catechin content. However, this is only true, in the case of unprocessed fruit. The darker the berry is, the higher the catechin content is. The largest amassing of catechins resides within the skin and seeds of certain fruits.

Medicine With No Side Effects

There is much evidence of catechins, particularly EGCG, contributing to the prevention and treatment of several diseases and health issues. EGCG is nontoxic and has no documented side effects. So, while you enjoy your food, embrace catechins into your life.