catechins

  1. Green tea boosts eye health

    Forget carrots... when it comes to protecting your eyes, try some tea instead.

    Just be sure to make it green.

    Green tea is packed with a fantastic antioxidant called catechins, and a new study shows how these vision-friendly molecules make their way from the stomach right up to your eye, where they are absorbed by the lens, retina and other tissue.

    Researchers fed green tea to lab rats, then analyzed their eye tissue afterwards. They found that the rats' eyes absorbed large amounts of the antioxidants, with the retinas getting the most, and the cornea taking in the least.

    The researchers say that green tea's antioxidants appeared to fight off oxidative stress in the eyes for up to 20 hours, according to the study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

    That oxidative stress is what ultimately hurts the eye-- leading to vision problems and diseases such as glaucoma.

    And that's not the only way green tea can boost your health, because few drinks can pack the punch of this simple brew. Green tea has been linked to weight loss, cancer prevention and stress reduction. It can also help fight depression, battle illness, boost the immune system, reduce the risk of death from pneumonia, and lower your risk for gum disease--and remember, healthy gums are one of the keys to a healthy heart.

    Some studies have even found that green tea drinkers live longer.

    Not bad for something that tastes great hot or iced.

    For the best results, squeeze a little lemon and use a drop –-just a drop--of sugar. This simple, common combination can triple the amount of the antioxidants absorbed by the bloodstream in each sip.

    And if you're looking to protect your eyes through nutrition, be sure you're getting enough vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, lutein, zeaxanthin and the omega-3 fatty acids.

    That's a lot to track, so you can often find these nutrients in supplements. But they're also common enough in food, so it's not too hard to get them from a good and varied diet.

    Then, for a delicious way to end your meal, set your eyes on a steaming mug of green tea.

  2. Just a spoonful of sugar… and a slice of lemon

    If you like your green tea with lemon and a hint of sugar, then consider yourself lucky – because you're getting the greatest benefit of all, even if you don't realize it.

    Researchers were looking for a more efficient way to study green tea's effect on animals. And they stumbled upon the
    secret to really enhancing this elixir's near-magical powers: sugar and ascorbic acid.

    Combined, the two help the body increase its absorption of catechins, the polyphenols at the heart of green tea's benefits. In fact, sugar and ascorbic acid can help get three times as many catechins into the bloodstream as drinking green tea by itself.

    And a great source of ascorbic acid – a form of vitamin C – is one that many people already use to enhance the flavor
    of their tea: lemon. If you don't like lemon, don't worry – you can get the same effect by drinking a cup of juice rich in vitamin C along with your tea.

    I told you about some of the latest studies on green tea just a couple of weeks ago, and how the benefits seem to cover everything from weight loss to longer lives.

    That list is already a long and impressive one… but would you believe that in the two weeks since I wrote that, it's gotten even longer? A kettleful of studies have emerged lately, showing that green tea may:

    • cut psychological stress by as much as 20 percent;
    • reduce the risk of death by pneumonia in women by 47 percent;
    • lower the risk of all types of blood cancer by 42 percent;
    • decrease the risk of lymphoid system cancers by 48 percent; and
    • lower the risk of gum disease.

    One study under way is looking at the possibility that green tea may help clear the HPV virus, lowering the risk for cervical cancer (and, if true, eliminate the need for potentially harmful HPV vaccines).

    The best way to get your green tea is to brew a fresh cup, add a drop a sugar – don't go overboard, sugar is still bad for you – and squeeze a fresh wedge of lemon into it. Avoid prepackaged green tea mix and bottled teas with added sugar
    and lemon flavor – it's not the same thing (and who knows if there's any actual lemon in that flavoring).

    You'll also want to drink it a couple of times a day to get the biggest boost – many of the studies are from Japan, which found the benefits really kick in at five cups a day… that's around two or three U.S. mugs.

    A lot of tea? Sure.

    But you get a lot of benefits in return.

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