Can polyphenols – the antioxidants found in green tea reduce the risk of heart disease in people who are overweight or obese? Some obese people have a condition known as metabolic syndrome which increases their risk for heart disease and diabetes. Now a new study published in the journal Nutrition shows that taking an extract of green tea could lower the risk of heart disease in obese people with metabolic syndrome who are at high risk for heart problems.
What is Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is a group of medical problems found in people who are overweight and obese – and one that increases their risk of heart and diabetes. People with metabolic syndrome have elevated blood sugar levels as well as other symptoms including high blood pressure, abdominal obesity, and abnormal lipid levels. Metabolic syndrome affects over forty percent of people over the age of fifty and is more common in women than men. Needless to say, metabolic syndrome increases the risk of heart disease.
Extract of Green Tea and Obesity Related Heart Disease
Researchers gave thirty-five obese people with metabolic syndrome one of three interventions: four cups of decaffeinated green tea each day, two capsules consisting of decaffeinated green tea extract, or four cups of water (to serve as a control) for a period of two months.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that the groups who drank the green tea or took the extract of green tea had lower levels of a protein called amyloid alpha in their bloodstream compared to the group who drank water. Amyoid alpha is a marker for a higher risk of heart disease.
Should Obese People Take an Extract of Green Tea to Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease?
Green tea extracts that contain EGCG are safe for most people, although there’s some question as to whether high doses of EGCG can lead to liver or kidney toxicity. Some people experience mild stomach upset when taking green tea extract pills. For this reason, it’s best to get EGCG naturally by drinking green tea, although some find it difficult to drink four cups of green tea a day – and prefer taking a capsule instead.
When taking an extract of green tea, it’s important to buy only from a reputable supplier and not to take more than one capsule a day. People who are pregnant or have a history of liver or kidney problems should avoid using green tea supplements. Anyone who experiences problems with caffeine should choose a decaffeinated green tea extract instead.
Green Tea and the Risk of Heart Disease in Obese People: The Bottom Line?
This is a very small study, and the results are only preliminary, but there’s little risk to taking a single green tea extract or drinking four cups of decaffeinated green tea a day for most people. Green tea has other health benefits and some studies show it modestly boosts metabolic rate which would be beneficial for overweight and obese people. Talk to your doctor about whether green tea is right for you if you have metabolic syndrome.