Easy Health Hacks – 1 Trick That “Turns On” Antioxidants!

By on April 5, 2016
Green tea is touted for its health benefits, mainly due to its high amounts of antioxidants, such as the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).

However, new research from Penn State reveals these antioxidants won’t always work–and it all depends on the food you eat.

Reporting in the American Journal of Pathology, researchers say consuming iron-rich foods could disable EGCG, preventing it from soothing inflammation. This is a big problem especially for those with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), who use green tea to naturally reduce inflammation.

Now researchers recommend avoiding iron-rich foods if you’re a green tea connoisseur.

“If you drink green tea after an iron-rich meal, the main compound in the tea will bind to the iron,” says Matam Vijay-Kumar, a Penn State assistant professor of nutritional sciences. “When that occurs, the green tea loses its potential as an antioxidant. In order to get the benefits of green tea, it may be best to not consume it with iron-rich foods.”

Why It’s Bad For You

Normally, EGCG helps reduce inflammation by inhibiting myeloperoxidase, an enzyme released by white blood cells which causes an inflammatory response. However, when Vijay-Kumar looked at how EGCG and iron worked together, iron prevented EGCG from inhibiting this specific enzyme. This meant that that it was no longer able to reduce inflammation, raising the risk of disease.

For those with IBD, this effect could be disastrous. Green tea is recommended as a way to soothe inflammation, yet many of them are instructed to take iron supplements as well. The result? The iron cancels the effects of green tea, making their condition worse.

“The ability of EGCG to mediate its inhibitory activity is counter-regulated by the presence of iron and lipocalin,” write researchers in the online version of the American Journal of Pathology. “These findings indicate that the ability of EGCG to inhibit myeloperoxidase activity is one of the mechanisms by which it exerts mucoprotective effects and that counter-regulatory factors such as dietary iron and luminal lipocalin 2 should be taken into consideration for optimizing clinical management strategies for inflammatory bowel disease with the use of EGCG treatment.”

So if you’re taking both iron and green tea to soothe your digestive tract, watch out: It’s probably not working.

What This Means For You

Drink green tea for its benefits? Then think twice about consuming it with iron supplements or iron-rich foods, say researchers. Doing so could render its antioxidants ineffective–and could cause inflammation to flare up as well.

“The benefit of green tea depends on the bioavailability of its active components,” says study author Beng San Yeoh. “It is not only a matter of what we eat, but also when we eat and what else we eat with it.”

Readers: Do you drink green tea for its health benefits?

Green Tea and Iron, Bad
Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate Inhibition of Myeloperoxidase and Its Counter-Regulation by Dietary Iron (Study)
Green Tea and Iron: Bad Combination (Press Release)

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