Green tea has had some wins and some losses in the PR arena. Although research has indicated that it helps lower LDL cholesterol and fights cancer in a lab setting, other studies—such as this one finding that drinking it offers no protection against breast cancer—have dismissed it as nothing special.
Until now, scientists have been uncertain what happens to green tea once we digest it. They know that it contains antioxidant polyphenols in its undigested form, but thought that perhaps once our stomach acid was through with it there wouldn't be any beneficial compounds left for us to digest.
Luckily, a new study finds that the polyphenols in green tea remain active after digestion, and that digestion actually makes them more active at fighting Alzheimer's and other types of dementia. Scientists also exposed cancer cells to the digested green tea and found that it significantly reduced cancer proliferation and protected healthy cells.
Of course, just because green tea (even its digested form) possesses superpowers in a petri dish it doesn't mean we'll get those same benefits by drinking it, especially since it's hard to know for sure about the quality of the tea leaves you're steeping. But if you love green tea anyway, and I'm sipping some as I type this, it's nice to have another reason to feel good about it—especially since so many of the things we love (French fries come to mind) have absolutely no upside!