Catechins are a type of antioxidant and a form of flavonoid that protects our bodies from free radicals which are responsible for a host of health issues from cancer to heart disease. But they do other things too.
Catechins aid weight loss efforts by increasing the amount of energy our bodies use and by tapping into stored body fat for energy. (1) Catechins are found in a variety of foods such as wine, tea, cacao, coffee, and many wild berries like raspberries and acai berries.
What Are Catechins?
Catechins are found mostly in the leaves of the tea plant, however, they are also found in other foods like chocolate, red wine, apples and berries, but in smaller amounts. Their health benefits have been under scrutiny for the past 30 years, since health experts have noticed longevity of life in cultures that have consumed tea in abundance. (2)
Catechins are actually a variety of flavonoid that are thought to carry a host of health benefits such as sustained cardiovascular health, the lessening of risks for cancer as well as weight management.
In controlled studies, the catechins in tea leaves have been observed to hinder the development of cancer cells, and are able to prevent free radicals from doing cellular damage that can potentially lead to malignancies. (3)
Let’s take a more in-depth look into the work of catechins and how they can profoundly impact health.
Health Benefits of Catechins
1. Catechins Promote Weight Loss
Catechins can lead to weight loss by enhancing the level of energy our bodies utilize and also by allowing our bodies to tap into fat stores for energy. In fact, according to one study, a person can increase weight loss up to 100 percent by drinking catechins from green tea.
These same catechins likewise promote fat loss from the abdominal region. (4) These weight loss phenomena, however, seem to be only unique to green tea catechins and not in catechins found in other foods.
2. Catechins Promote Oral Health
Want better mouth hygiene? Catechins also work as tiny plaque fighters that get rid of bacteria in the mouth, thwarting the formation of cavities and mitigating periodontal disease. Though this is no substitute for manual flossing, catechins have been observed to considerably impact overall tooth and mouth health quite positively.
Bacteria found in the mouth which harms gums, teeth, and causes periodontal disease and even gastric ulcers can be neutralized by catechins of green tea. (5)
3. Catechins May Help Prevent Some Cancers
Laboratory research with animals has shown that catechins scavenged oxidants prior to cell damage from happening, decreasing the quantity as well as size of tumors. They were also seen to have inhibited cancer cell growth. In a particular study, white tea seemed to be more efficacious.
Catechins rid the body of free radicals, thus avoiding cancer development. (6) Catechins were also observed to slow the aging process.
4. Catechins May Help Control Cholesterol Levels
Catechins have also been observed to bind with cholesterol, as well as absorb and blocks it, thus effectively bringing down cholesterol amounts in the blood.
It likewise prevents the build up of bad cholesterol that results from oxidation, subsequently preventing the choking of blood vessels due to the accumulation of bad cholesterol. (7)
5. Catechins May Help Reduce Cardiovascular Disease Risk
Catechins also help stave off the development of thrombosis, arterial sclerosis, myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) and strokes. Catechins do this by suppressing aggregation of platelets, thus avoiding brain strokes and heart attacks. They have also been quite useful in managing hypertension. (8)
Other Health Benefits of Catechins
- Catechins can prevent an enzyme from absorbing sugar, which can reduce risk of developing diabetes.
- Catechins thwart viruses and bacteria that cause influenza, stomach upset and mouth cavities. Using green tea as a mouthwash is thought to be an effective way to prevent influenza due to its anti-viral properties.
- Catechins improve intestinal conditions via the prevention of the development of harmful bacteria, while supporting good bacteria such as bifid bacteria. This optimizes the performance of the intestines.
- Catechins have the uncanny ability to bind with potentially odor causing substances like bad breath, meat, fish, or even human excrement, thus preventing offensive odors.
- Catechins are also detoxifying agents since they attract toxic substances and destructive heavy metals like chrome, lead, cadmium and mercury and neutralize them so they cannot do any harm.
10 Catechin-Filled Foods and Drinks
Cocoa contains catechins, along with cocoa-based products like chocolate. Levels of catechins in chocolate are dependent on the amounts of cocoa present in their formulation. Eating or drinking cocoa or its chocolate derivatives could be advantageous for the cardiovascular system and improve overall health.
It is believed that flavonoids such as catechins present in chocolate may shield against stroke and coronary heart disease. (9) Milk chocolate has only small levels of catechins since it has been processed with milk and sugar, so opt for dark chocolate.
Green tea is particularly abundant in catechins, while black tea likewise contains catechins, although not quite as potent as in green tea. Regular drinking of green tea is believed to lessen one’s risk of having cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Green tea consumption may also perk up overall health and even decrease the risk of cancer and neurological illnesses. (10)
The catechin content of tea is one of the primary reasons why detox teas utilize tea as their liquid base.
Blackberries are more potent in catechins than green tea; however they lose their catechins once processed. So be certain to have your blueberries raw and fresh for maximum benefits. Cranberries and raspberries have catechins too; however blackberries edge them out in levels of concentration.
A good rule of thumb is the darker the berry, the denser the concentrations of catechins.
4. Sweet and Purple Potatoes
Potatoes are no exception as they benefit from more catechin concentrations in the darker versions of the food.
Purple and red potatoes have double the levels of flavonoids compared to white potatoes. (11) The next time you plan out your family dinner, incorporate the different types and colors of potatoes for varied taste and antioxidant profile.
5. Red Wine
The catechins in red wine come from concentrations emanating from the fermented grapes, and it also applies that the darker, the better. The antioxidant benefits of red wine are associated with bringing down LDL or “bad” cholesterol, controlling hypertension, and preventing dangerous blood clots. Drink in moderation.
Apples are an abundant source of phytochemicals, which include catechins. The highest levels and concentrations of catechins are found within the apple’s skin, so avoid peeling your apples to ensure you are getting a good dose of catechins. (12)
Pears are another source of catechins that are consumed abundantly.
They provide incredible health benefits typically associated with catechins and are low in calories, so they can easily fit into a healthy diet that is calorie controlled.
The catechins in cherries have been associated with the prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and other inflammatory related illnesses.
Being abundant with fiber, potassium and vitamin C, and also being low glycemic, they are an ideal candidate for a sweet treat.
Akin to green tea, guava leaves are an abundant source of catechins in addition to having antibiotic characteristics.
Guava leaves when boiled into a tea is widely used in some cultures for medicinal purposes, as an anti-inflammatory agent and to fight diarrhea.
10. Fava Beans
Fava beans are abundant with catechins, having denser concentrations per serving than pears, apples and cherries combined together.
Unprocessed, fresh fava beans have double the catechins compared to cooked fava beans, but the cooked beans still have ample amounts of the flavonoid.
Whether or not you have heard about what a catechin is, is irrelevant, considering you probably have been getting some amounts of it already. Catechins are an antioxidant that is well reputed for both their dietary and health benefits. As previously mentioned, they are contained in a myriad of foods like apples, green tea, dark chocolate, red wine, guavas blackberries,
As previously mentioned, they are contained in a myriad of foods like apples, green tea, dark chocolate, red wine, guavas blackberries, pears, and potatoes to name a few foods. Include these regularly into your diet and enjoy the many health advantages that they bring.