The Powerful Green Tea Compound That Could Help Prevent Heart Attacks

Green tea matcha powder
Green tea matcha powder The Picture Pantry / Getty Images

Time and time again we’ve seen research backing the health benefits of green tea. The powerful supplement can help you lose weight, boost your memory, and lower psychological stress. Now researchers believe a potent substance found in green tea can reduce the risk of heart attacks, according to a new study from the University of Leeds and Lancaster University.

But that doesn’t mean you should start downing green tea by the gallon. The molecule, called EGCG, is really only beneficial to scientists at the moment.

The compound was being investigated for its ability to reduce amyloid plaques that build up between nerve cells in the brain—a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. However, researchers found the compound can also dissolve potentially harmful protein plaques in blood vessels, too. This is good news because buildup of fatty material inside the arteries can reduce blood flow to the heart and brain, causing heart attack and strokes.

“If you drink normal quantities of green tea, it will probably be unlikely to have an effect,”study co-author David Middleton said in a press release. “What we are saying is that we need to look at this molecule more carefully and figure out ways we can either adapt it to make it more [available to the body when taken] or ways of delivering it to the plaques.”

Next, the researchers will test ways of introducing EGCG into the bloodstream—without making patients drink large quantities of green tea (which may have not-so-great consequences). They think they can modify the structure of EGCG to make it absorb easier in the stomach (essentially making it more resistant to your body’s metabolism), or introducing it straight to plaques in arteries via injection.

Stay tuned to see how this superfood (that’s probably in your pantry) can become a tool in combating deadly diseases—and check out more foods that can keep your heart healthy.