Past research has shown that green tea benefits the brain, and a new study may explain how. Researchers hypothesized that an antioxidant compound found in green tea, called EGCG, boosts the generation of neuron cells in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that plays a big role in both short- and long-term memory.
First they discovered that EGCG increases production of neural progenitor cells (sort of like stem cells for the brain) in a lab setting. Then they gave EGCG to mice to see if it would improve their memories, and it worked: Mice fed EGCG performed better on a series of tests related to object recognition and spatial memory than did a control group of mice. The researchers hope that these findings will lead to further exploration of green tea and EGCG as possible fixes for neurodegenerative diseases and memory loss. The study was published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.
So, should you start guzzling green tea to improve your memory, or taking green tea supplements (which typically contain a bigger dose of EGCG than you could easily consume through tea)? The jury is still out, but based on the growing stack of studies showing that green tea benefits mind and body, I'd say that incorporating green tea into your diet is definitely a good idea.
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