Green tea isn't just good for your heart, it's good for your brain too
Study found that chemical properties of green tea promotes the generation of brain cells
14:17 GMT, 6 September 2012
The green tea chemical ECGC was found to boost the generation of brain cells in mice, which seemed to improve memory and learning in mice
Sipping green tea is not just good for you heart – it could boost the memory as well, say researchers.
A study from China found that the chemical properties of the healthy beverage promotes the generation of brain cells, providing benefits for memory and spatial learning.
Study leader Professor Yun Bai from the Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China, said: 'There has been plenty of scientific attention on its use in helping prevent cardiovascular diseases, but now there is emerging evidence that its chemical properties may impact cellular mechanisms in the brain.'
Professor Bai's team focused on the organic chemical EGCG that is found in green tea.
'We proposed that EGCG can improve cognitive function by impacting the generation of neuron cells, a process known as neurogenesis,' said Prof Bai.
'We focused our research on the hippocampus, the part of the brain which processes information from short-term to long-term memory.'
The team found that ECGC boosts the production of neural progenitor cells, which like stem cells can adapt into various types of cells. The team then used laboratory mice to discover if this increased cell production gave an advantage to memory or spatial learning.
'We ran tests on two groups of mice, one which had imbibed ECGC and a control group,' said Prof Bai.
'First the mice were trained for three days to find a visible platform in their maze. Then they were trained for seven days to find a hidden platform.'
The team found that the ECGC treated mice required less time to find the hidden platform. Overall the results revealed that EGCG enhances learning and memory by improving object recognition and spatial memory.
'We have shown that the organic chemical EGCG acts directly to increase the production of neural progenitor cells, both in glass tests and in mice,' concluded Prof Bai.
'This helps us to understand the potential for EGCG, and green tea which contains it, to help combat degenerative diseases and memory loss.'
The research is published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.