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Eating Green Tea Leaves to Fight Bacteria

A recent USDA study  states that green tea may have extensive antibacterial properties. The study was compiled by USDA experts from several prior studies on the individual interactions between compounds in green tea and several disease causing bacteria. The results indicate that green tea has applications for health far beyond its often-cited cancer and heart disease fighting properties. Below are a few of the strains of bacteria that the report claims green tea can fight against.

E. Coli
There are several different types of e. coli, and most of them are harmless. However, there is one strain, labeled O157:H7 which is very dangerous. Several different studies were cited in the USDA report mentioned above to show that green tea may be able to fight against this dangerous bacteria. The report maintains that the results are not entirely conclusive. However, in one study , mice treated with green tea supplements were more resistant to the symptoms of e. coli infection than mice who where not treated. Most mice exposed to e. coli and NOT given the green tea extract died. However none of the mice who were exposed to e. coli AND given the green tea extract showed any clinical signs of being affected. Most of the studies surveyed showed that symptoms of E. Coli were less prevalent when green tea was administered. In addition, some studies actually showed a reduction of the E. Coli organisms themselves.

Tuberculosis is caused by a bacteria called mycobacterium tuberculosis. In another study cited by the USDA report, the growth of this bacteria was inhibited by green tea. This seems to suggest that green tea consumption may have a hand to play in preventing tuberculosis infection.

This disorder is often caused by a microorganism called mycoplasma pneumoniae. In another study cited by the USDA report, green and black tea were shown to prevent the spread of this microorganism. The USDA report claims that this may mean that certain nutrients in tea could be effective in treating pneumonia infections.

“Spoilage Bacteria”
The USDA report notes several bacteria which contribute to the spoilage of food that may be fought against using green tea. Many of these “spoilage bacteria” can contribute to food poisoning if their development on food is advanced. Green tea was found to stop the growth of many of these bacteria.

The Benefits of Eating Whole Green Tea Leaves
Many of the nutrients indicated as having “antibacterial” properties in the USDA report are present in much higher levels in whole tea leaves than they are in regular brewed tea. This is made clear in a second USDA report on the levels of beneficial nutrients in several different types of tea including brewed black and green tea as well as unadulterated whole green tea leaves.  For example “Catechins,” which are one of the most important groups of flavonoids contributing to green tea’s anti-bacterial properties, are present in concentrations 94.7 times greater in whole green tea leaves than in brewed green tea. According to the report, the presence of other beneficial flavonoids such as Therugibins are as much as one hundred times greater or more in whole leaves than in brewed tea.

Green Tea

Green Tea

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1] http://ddr.nal.usda.gov/dspace/handle/10113/25506
2] http://grande.nal.usda.gov/ibids/index.php?mode2=detail&origin=ibids_references&therow=384818
3] http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/Data/Other/IFT2003_TeaFlav.pdf

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