Wouldn’t it be nice to indulge during the holidays and either lose or not gain weight? How about green tea? It’s green for the holiday season, warm, has no calories and has a lot of positive benefits. I reviewed the research on green tea for weight loss and the results are mixed. One study showed a possible benefit using a standardized extract containing 25% epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a type of catechin.
Before buying a green tea supplement, there are a few things you should be aware of. Labels are confusing. ECGC is found in many compounds with various names such as catechins, and flavonols, which are part of a class of compounds called polyphenols. These compounds have antioxidants in them and have shown some antibacterial and anticancer properties but may not have the concentration of ECGC necessary for weight loss. Look for products that state the amount of “EGCG” and use a standardized extract of 25%. More importantly, liver toxicity has been associated with some green tea supplements. A specific extract (Exolise from Arkopharma) has been removed from the market. It may have been due to the extraction process that may have produced toxic compounds. Some products contained hexavalent chromium, which is carcinogenic. Oftentimes, proprietary blends have a significant amount of appetite suppressant stimulants and high levels of caffeine that may have bad effects on your heart rate and blood pressure. Beware of proprietary blends since the dose of ingredients is not included on the label. Use a trusted manufacturer when buying supplements and carefully read the label.
Use caution if you are on blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder when taking supplements. Green tea contains vitamin K, which directly counteracts Coumadin’s blood-thinning action. Drinking green tea would be fine since you would need to drink enormous quantities to provide a significant amount of vitamin K.
With all of the negatives of using green tea supplements, there are many positive benefits to drinking 3 or more cups of green tea per day. It lowers cholesterol, decreases the risk of heart disease, may protect you from developing cancer, reduce inflammation, and provide antioxidant protection. The only drawback is it does contain some caffeine and if you are sensitive, you may need to limit the amount. As far as weight loss is concerned, only the supplement of a purified ECGC extract showed promise. So if you want to lose weight, eat less, exercise and consult with a professional to determine which nutritional supplements are best for you. Go Green and drink to Holiday Health – what have you got to lose?