Regularly drinking green tea could protect the brain against developing Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, a new research by scientists at Newcastle University has suggested.
The study also suggested that this ancient Chinese remedy could play a vital role in protecting the body against cancer.
Led by Dr Ed Okello, the Newcastle team wanted to know if the protective properties of green tea - which have previously been shown to be present in the undigested, freshly brewed form of the drink - were still active once the tea had been digested.
Digestion is a vital process, which provides our bodies with the nutrients we need to survive. But, said Dr Okello, it also means that just because the food we put into our mouths is generally accepted to contain health-boosting properties, we can't assume these compounds will ever be absorbed by the body.
"What was really exciting about this study was that we found when green tea is digested by enzymes in the gut, the resulting chemicals are actually more effective against key triggers of Alzheimer's development than the undigested form of the tea," explained Dr Okello, based in the School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development at Newcastle University.
"In addition to this, we also found the digested compounds had anti-cancer properties, significantly slowing down the growth of the tumour cells which we were using in our experiments."
The study has been published in the academic journal Phytomedicine.