Your Brain and Green Tea May Make Good Memories
Researchers may have found an especially memorable reason to add green tea to your lifestyle. New findings indicate green tea extract has a positive impact on the brain and working memory, and that could be good news for fighting dementia.
The results of this study, which was conducted at the University Hospital of Basel, are the first to show evidence that green tea has a beneficial effect on cognitive functioning. Specifically, the scientists were able to demonstrate that the extract increased the influence that one area of the brain has over another. This is known as effective connectivity.
In the study, 12 healthy male volunteers were randomly given a milk whey-based beverage that contained 27.5 grams of green tea extract or a similar beverage without the extract. The participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging during this process.
The authors found that the brains of volunteers who drank the green tea extract showed activity that correlated with an improvement in task performance and an increase in cognitive performance. That is, when the men were tested, those who consumed the green tea extract performed significantly better on working memory tasks. Why?
The scientists analyzed the men’s brains using MRI and found increased connectivity between the frontal cortex and the parietal in the green tea group. According to Professor Stefan Borgwardt from the Psychiatric University Clinics, one of the study’s investigators, “Our findings suggest that green tea might increase the short-term synaptic plasticity of the brain.”
Previous green tea and memory research
In a mouse study, researchers gave the animals EGCG (epigallocatechin-3 gallate), a potent antioxidant found in green tea. When the mice were tested, the scientists found that those who took EGCG had an improvement in memory.
It’s also been suggested that components of green tea may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. That’s because experts found that it can interfere with the activity of an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase (AChE), which breaks down acetylcholine, a brain neurotransmitter. As we age, levels of acetylcholine decline, resulting in short-term memory loss.
Other benefits of green tea
Green tea has caused quite a buzz in the natural and conventional medicine communities, as well as conflicting research findings. However, there is evidence showing green tea extract may be helpful as an anticancer agent and in
- Weight loss and obesity, by slowing weight gain and reducing fat absorption
- Diabetes, possibly by affecting how the body responds to insulin and protecting the retina against damage and diabetic retinopathy
- Treatment of leukemia patients
- Reducing the risk of heart disease
- Fighting vision problems such as glaucoma
The bottom line
Although it’s still too soon to know exactly what role green tea may have in helping memory and other cognitive functions, these latest findings (and previous ones) suggest this plant may prove to be helpful in management of neuropsychiatric disorders such as dementia. For now, brew yourself a cup of green tea and take advantage of its antioxidant richness.
Schmidt A et al. Green tea extract enhances parieto-frontal connectivity during working memory processing. Psychopharmacology 2014 March