The quest for answers about EGCG

After seeing the Snapple commercial, promoting its “new green tea with the most EGCG on Earth,” and reading about Coca-Cola’s new green tea drink with EGCG content that creates “negative calories,” my inquiring mind wanted to know, what exactly is EGCG, and what can it do for me?

Trying to keep this as close to laymen’s terms as possible: EGCG is the acronym for the compound Epigallocatechin-gallate, one of the four main catechins in green tea. Catechins are flavenoids, which are responsible for the colors, aromas and flavors of plant-based foods, as well as possessing strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

For centuries in Asia, tea has been the most highly-consumed beverage (after water) and has traditionally been regarded for its health benefits. Recently, numerous scientific studies have been conducted to determine specifically what the benefits of consuming EGCG are, and the molecular and cellular activities through which these benefits occur. The most popular claims are that green tea (and EGCG particularly, as its active ingredient) can help prevent cancer and heart disease while other studies suggest that EGCG may contribute to the prevention of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, obesity and diabetes, improve cholesterol levels and enhance weight loss.

According to Lisa Dorfman, a sports nutritionist and board-certified specialist in dietetics, as well as an adjunct professor at University of Miami, “studies have shown that EGCG enhances the absorption of fat, therefore reducing cholesterol. It mimics the effects of insulin, decreasing the triglyceride and cholesterol in the blood stream, bringing down the blood-sugar level; and, in conjunction with caffeine, can increase the metabolic rate by four.”

This last claim about metabolic rate is where big business has decided to take advantage of the we’ll-believe-anything-we-see-on-TV mentality of the weight-obsessed American population to hit ’em where it hurts-their wallets. Companies such as Snapple and Coca-Cola, jointly with Nestl