Tea and Metabolic Syndrome
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest the beneficial effects of tea for regulating and preventing metabolic syndrome (MS or MetSyn).
Metabolic syndrome is the medical term for a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. It puts patients at greater risk of heart disease, stroke and other conditions affecting the blood vessels.
On their own diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity can potentially damage blood vessels, but having all three together is particularly dangerous.
All three are very common conditions with up to 1 in 4 of the UK population currently estimated to be suffering from metabolic syndrome.
Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome
Central obesity - a waist circumference of 37 inches or more (men) 31.5 inches or more (women)
Hyperlipidemia - higher levels of triglycerides and low levels of HDL ("good" cholesterol) in the blood which can lead to artherosclerosis (blocking of arteries with cholesterol)
Hypertension - high blood pressure consistently 140/90mmHg or above
Insulin Resistance - difficulty controlling blood sugar levels
Higher risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) - an increased risk of developing blood clots
Inflammation - a tendency to develop inflammation (swelling and irritation of tissues)
PCOS - Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in women is recognised as a secondary syndrome of MS
Tea and Metabolic Syndrome Research
The beneficial effects of tea in the prevention and management of metabolic syndrome has been the focus of recent research. Some studies suggest a relationship between the active ingredients in puerh tea and the following benefits for patients with metabolic syndrome:
Reduced fats in the blood stream - Puerh tea was found to lower levels of fats (tryglycerides and cholesterol) in the blood stream.
Increase in good cholesterol - Puerh tea increased levels of HDL-C (‘good’ cholesterol) and lowered levels of LDL-C (‘bad’ cholesterol)
Reduced weight gain - Puerh tea reduced development of fat deposits between viscera (liver) and the skin (adipose layer) leading to lower weight gain (growth suppression)
Blood sugar regulation - Puerh tea helped to regulate blood sugar levels after eating
Weight loss in obesity - Polyphenols in puerh tea (epigallocatechin-3-gallate - EGCG) helped to increase fat oxidation (the break down of fat stores) in a group of obese men in a US study.
Dosages and specific effects of individual plant chemicals in Puerh tea are still being researched but studies have been encouraging.
What is Puerh Tea?
Puerh tea is a compressed, aged, post-fermented tea that is made from varietals of Camelia sinensis assamica. Puerh is grown and processed in Yunnan, Southern China.
Puerh tea leaves are processed into two main types of tea: Raw or Sheng Puerh and Cooked or Shou Puerh.
Comparative studies on the hypolipidemic and growth suppressive effects of oolong, black, pu-erh, and green tea leaves in rats. Kuo KL, et al. J Agric Food Chem. 2005
The effects of epigallocatechin-3-gallate on thermogenesis and fat oxidation in obese men: a pilot study. Boschmann M, et al. J Am Coll Nutr. 2007
Effect of pu-erh tea on body fat and lipid profiles in rats with diet-induced obesity.
Cao ZH et al. Phytotherapy Research, 2011
Studies on the bioactivity of aqueous extract of pu-erh tea and its fractions: in vitro antioxidant activity and α-glycosidase inhibitory property, and their effect on postprandial hyperglycemia in diabetic mice. Huang et al. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2013