If you’ve been following the numerous reports about tea’s alleged health benefits in the media (including the ones at this site) in past years, then you’ve probably encountered a mouthful of a term known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate. Which is one of the most often cited beneficial compounds found in tea and one that’s typically shortened to the more manageable acronym, EGCG.
A compound in tea that’s known as a catechin, EGCG has antioxidant properties and is found in the greatest quantity in tea that undergoes minimal processing, such as green, white or yellow. Of course most of the attention regarding its supposed health benefits has been focused on the most popular of these – green tea. While it might not be a completely scientific method for gauging the interest in this substance consider that a search for EGCG at Google Scholar for the eight-plus months of this year returns 85 results. At the PubMed online library for the National Insitutes for Health, a search for EGCG returns a total of more than 300 results for all dates.
Though EGCG is found in tea, it can also be isolated and made available in supplement form. It apparently does not occur in any other foods or beverages other than tea. In more technical terms, EGCG “is the ester of epigallocatechin and gallic acid,” which will probably mean as much to the average reader as it does to yours truly. Add to this the fact that there are various and seemingly interchangeable terms for tea’s different compounds – such as flavonoids, polyphenols and the aforementioned catechins – and the issue can tend to get somewhat muddled for us laypeople. For what it’s worth, you can take a look at the definition for each of these terms here, here, and here.
A Web search for more information on EGCG can be a bit frustrating, given that it returns so many results for makers of supplements and related products, some of them perhaps just a bit dubious. For a serviceable overview that goes into a little more detail, try the Wikipedia entry. For studies that have focused on EGCG’s effect on specific diseases and conditions, try the PubMed library, as already noted.
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