Chances are, this isn’t the first time you’re hearing about the positive effects of green tea. It’s a beverage that’s been used for centuries — possibly millennia — for its delicious taste, calming effects, and health benefits. Originally finding a foothold in Chinese medicine, the western world soon caught on to the tea’s potential for boosting our physical and mental health.
You’ve probably seen green tea touted as a miracle compound for many different health aspects: there are claims it can reduce bad cholesterol, prevent certain types of cancer, and lower blood pressure. While some of these claims are purely anecdotal, some are backed by scientific studies. Unfortunately, it has been difficult to conclusively verify that green tea is directly responsible for these benefits; as such, the health and scientific communities have been cautious in their outright praise for the tea’s extracts. However, recent studies were able to draw a more substantial link between green tea and one particular body function: brain power!
As it turns out, there is one green tea compound in particular that may have brain boosting potential. It’s called “EGCG,” and while that might not be the catchiest or most memorable name you’ve ever heard, it’s a compound you might want to become familiar with if you’re interested in improving cognitive function.
Specifically, the most recent and relevant study on EGCG suggests that the compound may improve a healthy person’s working memory, which is basically their ability to handle all short-term tasks and attention to information processing. The 2014 study took a small group of healthy participants and instructed them to drink green tea every week for four weeks. At the end of the month’s time, researchers observed increased connectivity in parts of the brain related to working memory. This was described by one researcher as “plasticity [change],” meaning a very significant alteration of the brain’s function — albeit on a small scale.
Because of the significance of green tea and EGCG’s positive effects on the brain, researchers are now shifting their focus to find out whether this power can be amplified and harnessed to address health conditions that originate or primarily affect the brain, such as Down’s Syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. The suggested ability for EGCG to make concrete changes in brain function could have huge implications for diseases and conditions that were once thought to be irreversible.
The bottom line in all of this research seems to be modest, but promising. Don’t expect any massive changes simply from drinking green tea, but if you’re an otherwise healthy individual and you incorporate green tea into your diet, you can expect to reap at least some minor benefits of increased cognitive function.
And hey — next time you take that break for a cup of tea at work, you have a great reason for it… you’re busy boosting your brain power!