Green Tea Aids Memory?

The litany of potential health benefits for green tea continues. For anyone who might have missed it, the latest in this multitude of possible benefits is the notion that green tea might help enhance memory. For more on how tea can help other brain functions, refer to this article from a few years ago. It looked at potential benefits in the area of spatial learning, memory, cognitive capability, and learning ability, as well referencing a study on the calming effects of theanine, a compound found in tea.

Chai Green Tea - click on image to see many more green tea options! (Photo source: The English Tea Store)
Chai Green Tea – click on image to see many more green tea options! (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

The study on tea and memory was conducted by researchers from China’s Third Military Medical University and published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. Researchers focused their attention on a compound known as epigallocatechin-3 gallate or EGCG, which is especially plentiful in less processed types of tea, such as green. EGCG is commonly cited as a beneficial compound in tea, as noted in this overview, which was recently published in these pages.

While the EGCG in tea gets the most attention for its antioxidant properties the Chinese research team studied its potential ability to impact “the generation of neuron cells, a process known as neurogenesis,” as the head of the project put it. In tests on mice, the group studied the part of the brain that processed information from short to long-term memory and found that the EGCG contained in tea increased the production of neural progenitor cells.

Researchers performed tests on two groups of mice who were trained to perform various memory-related tasks. One group of mice was given EGCG and the other was not. The research team found that mice in the group that was given EGCG were able to complete these tasks in less time than the control group. As a result they came to the conclusion that “EGCG enhances learning and memory by improving object recognition and spatial memory.”

For more on the study, refer to this press release from the research team. For free access to the full (but not very layperson friendly) study, look here.

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