When you go to a convenience store, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the huge variety of green teas available, most of which have CATECHIN splashed across the labels in bold fancy letters.

It's often reported that this magical astringent component has special health benefits. One of which has garnered particular attention is effectiveness against obesity. This has recently fascinated many who are desperately seeking an easy way to lose these pesky love handles. But is it really effective? And if it is, how does it work? Is it really necessary to drink the expensive bottled green stuff to get our fix of catechin? In this month's issue, we'll answer all of these questions and more. So, pour yourself a nice hot cup of wholesome OCHA, and enjoy this peek into the mysterious centuries-old Japanese secret, Catechin!

What is Catechin?

The green tea business is now booming, thanks in part to the widespread reports about the high concentration of catechin found in green tea. But what on earth is catechin?

Catechin is a type of polyphenol, which is a powerful antioxidant found not only in green tea, but also in garlic, fruits, potatoes, and some varieties of nuts. Actually, antioxidants destroy free radicals, which can damage the body at the cellular level leaving the body susceptible to cancer, heart disease, and many other degenerative diseases. There are many kinds of polyphenols, but catechins are the strongest of them all.

Among the several types of catechin that exist, Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg) is the most powerful antioxidant, and green tea contains much more EGCg than any other kind of tea, such as black tea, or oolong tea. That's why green tea has received such attention of late.

What are the benefits of Catechin?

There have been many reported benefits. To date, the following are confirmed functions of catechin, but research is ongoing, so who knows what the future may hold?

Anti-bacterial action

The moment you put catechin into your mouth, it starts to work. Because of its sterilizing effect, it prevents viral infections, like the flu. In addition to that, it fights bacteria in the stomach to protect you from food poisoning. At sushi bars, green tea is served after the meal for this reason.

But what about the good bacteria in the intestine? Does catechin kill them, too? Amazingly, catechin manages to fight deadly bacteria and inhibits the growth of putrefactive bacteria without harming the friendly bacteria. This actually leads to the stimulation of the immune system in the body.

Lowering the risk of heart disease

An injury to the artery wall begins the process of plaque build-up by forming an obstruction in the blood stream. When the artery wall is attacked by free radicals (oxidized), LDL (also known as bad cholesterol) becomes irritating to the artery wall and can actually wound it.

Catechin, with its antioxidant effect, fights these free radicals that encourage arterial buildup. On top of that, catechin has more functions, for example, stopping the platelets from forming clots, lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol levels, and reducing stress, all of which ensure your heart and cardiovascular system stay healthy.

Defending against cancer

It is well known that citizens of some prefectures, like Shizuoka, where people have a lot of green tea in their daily life, have lower rates of cancer than residents of any other region in Japan.

Catechin's antioxidant effect protects us against cancers, preventing free radicals from attacking the body cells. The catechins are not the only antioxidants found in green tea. Vitamin A, C, and E all have similar effects against cancers.

Catechin also has more benefits, like anti-acid action, blood sugar regulating action, and anti-allergy action. Even the most expensive medicines never had so many functions. More than simply a tasty, soothing beverage, green tea should be nominated as "the tasty medicine of the century".

Can we really lose weight?

The green tea business is also booming in part because of recent claims that you can lose weight. Is this true?

A recent study has shown that daily catechin intake (588mg of catechin for 12 weeks) can reduce weight, especially body fat. But you may wonder how it works and how much weight we can lose.

With the daily intake of catechin, we can increase fat consumption in the liver. This leads to the decrease in body fat. The study shows that we can consume about 100kcal of energy a day with the intake of 588mg of catechin, which equals 5 or 6 cups of green tea per day. However, it's tough for us to take in such a huge amount of green tea every day. And if you try to take in a large amount of catechin in a cup of tea, it will be too bitter a way to drink. So that's why bottled green tea has gotten popular.

But we'll show you how you can power up your green tea to get the most catechin possible.

How to brew a cup of catechin-rich green tea

It is easy to buy bottled green tea at a convenience store to get enough catechin, but you can also make catechin-rich green tea at home. Here are a few steps.

Choosing "Sencha"

There are four major kinds of Japanese green tea; Gyokuro, Matcha, Bancha, and Sencha. Among these kinds of teas, Sencha contains the most catechin.

Catechin is produced in the tea plant to protect it against UVB radiation, and Sencha is the most exposed to the sunlight. As a result, Sencha leaves have the most catechin.

Sencha is also the most popular kind of green tea in Japan, and it is not as expensive as Gyokuro for your daily drinks.

Use boiled water

To make a mild flavored green tea, it is recommended to use water at 70C and to steep the leaves for a minute. But to make catechin-rich green tea, we should use 100C boiled water and steep the tea leaves for three minutes. It makes the tea bitter, but it contains more catechin.

Drink frequently

It is highly recommended to spread tea intake throughout the day. If you divide your daily amount of green tea, it is easier to absorb the catechin into your body.

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