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Chinese Teas May Help Lower Your Cholesterol Levels

 Chinese Teas May Help Lower Your Cholesterol Levels

For thousands of years the Chinese have claimed many health benefits can be gained from drinking teas. In fact, many international, Canadian and U.S. based tea drinkers agree that Chinese teas should be the beverage of choice.

In fact, during a recent survey conducted by the Canadian Tea Council, over 40% of Canadians agreed that they drank tea for its "health benefits" and others stated that it "tasted great, had no calories or fat and can help you take better care of yourself."

Chinese Teas May Help Lower Your Cholesterol Levels

Only in recent years has the medical community jumped on the Chinese tea bandwagon. Now, researchers are conducting numerous studies on the viability of Chinese tea extracts in the treatment and prevention of many diseases and conditions. The most common types of Chinese teas are:

  • Green tea

  • Red tea

  • White tea

  • Black tea

  • Oolong tea

  • Pu-erh tea

  • Flower tea

  • Yellow tea

  • Pressed tea

  • Iron Buddha

  • Kudin tea

However, of these eleven types, scientists seem most concerned with learning about green, red, white, and black tea. Here's a little background about these teas:

  • Each of them come from the same plant Camellia sinensis but are merely picked at different stages of development and fermented or oxidized for different periods of time.

  • The differences in oxidation and development allow for more or less of a certain kind of antioxidants in them often called catechins. Antioxidants have been shown to help protect the body from all kinds of damage.

  • Lucky for us, some of the claimed benefits look like they really exist. For instance, Chinese teas may help lower and maintain your cholesterol levels.

A recent study looked at the possibility that the antioxidants in Chinese teas, specifically called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) could affect diet induced Hypercholesterolemia in rats.

Hypercholesterolemia is high levels of LDL or 'bad' cholesterol in the blood. This in of itself isn't a disease but it can cause heart diseases, such as Atherosclerosis or 'hardening of the arteries.'

In the study, laboratory rats were divided into four groups. These groups were all given a diet high in cholesterol and fat along with no EGCG, 0.2 grams EGCG, 0.4 grams EGCG and 0.7 grams EGCG per group on a daily basis.

The rats were given the same diet for four weeks. After this time it was found that the levels of bad cholesterol in the rats given 0.7 grams EGCG was significantly reduced compared to the levels of bad cholesterol in the control group of rats given no EGCG at all.

In addition, the rats were given a sample liquid meal high in cholesterol and it was observed that cholesterol absorption in the intestines in the group of rats given the most EGCG was significantly reduced (62.7%) compared to the control group with no EGCG (79.3%).

In essence, the study demonstrated that the cholesterol in the food the EGCG rats were given wasn't being absorbed into their bodies as readily it normally would be, thus preventing it from getting into the bloodstream.

Researchers speculated that the EGCG interfered with the solubility of the cholesterol in the digestive tract so that it couldn't be absorbed.

Another study of laboratory rats had similar results. This study used the extracts from Green tea, Jasmine, Iron Buddha, Oolong and Pu-erh teas in examining their effects on hypercholesterolemia in rats.

Jasmine tea is made from a mixture of Jasmine flowers and Oolong or black tea leaves. Oolong tea is fermented or oxidized to a level between green tea and black tea in taste.

Pu-erh is a tea made from tea leaves that are fermented and then aged for as many as 50 years. Iron Buddha tea is an Oolong tea noted for a particularly fine flavor.

This group of rats was given a high cholesterol diet for one week before receiving the different tea extracts in their respective groups along with a continued high cholesterol diet for eight weeks.

All the teas were found to lower the atherogenic index and increase the total 'good' vs. 'bad' cholesterol ratio in the rats.

The green tea and the Jasmine tea extracts contained higher levels of EGCG than the other extracts and it was found that they had significantly lowered the cholesterol levels in the rats compared to the other tea extracts.

The teas also worked to reduce the average increase in liver size of the rats due to lipid disposition while they were on their high cholesterol diets.