Green Tea: Not a Super-food?

Green tea, derived from the plant Camellia sinensis is enjoyed by lots of people throughout the world and has long been recognised for its medicinal properties. It is packed with phytochemicals and catechins that have powerful antioxidant properties. It also contains nutrients, minerals and amino acids that bolster the immune system, improve brain function and boost metabolism.

However a recent research from, the University of California, has showed that excessive consumption adversely affected reproduction and development in Drosophila melanogaster populations. It is still not clear whether overconsumption could have the same impact on humans, but the findings definitely suggest a caution.

The team investigated the effects of green tea toxicity by exposing the embryos and larvae of the fruit flies to various doses of green tea polyphenols. It was found that larvae exposed to green tea showed slower development, were born smaller and exhibited a dramatic decline in the number of emerged offspring. Moreover green tea made the flies more susceptible to starvation and heat stress but protected them against dehydration.  Also green tea caused morphological abnormalities in reproductive organs in both the sexes, such as testicular and ovarian atrophy. Female offspring showed decreased reproductive output and a reduction in lifespan; strangely, males remained unaffected.

The researchers concluded that green tea could have health benefits at low doses, however at high doses, it may show adverse effects. They also feel that further work is needed to make any definite recommendations. For the time being, they only suggest that green tea should be consumed in moderation.

The researchers also found other reports stating problems associated with excessive consumption of green tea. Green tea compounds in excessive amount can cause reduction in body weight and affect embryo development in mice and dogs

Scientists believe that high doses of green tea may cause too much of cell death, however the researchers are not sure about the molecular mechanisms.

The group is planning to study the exact mechanisms behind this action of green tea by measuring total consumption, evaluating metabolic pathways, and identifying and quantifying the metabolites of natural products in flies. The data may help them to have a better understanding of toxic doses in humans.


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Arunima Maiti

Arunima Maiti

Biomedical scientist with special interest in reproductive biology.

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