The Antioxidant Power of Catechins

The Antioxidant Power of Catechins

Has your doctor ever told you to go out and enjoy delicious black grapes, a glass of freshly brewed green tea, or an ounce of high quality dark chocolate? These foods, beside their great taste, offer a high number of antioxidants that have been shown to be beneficial, potentially helping improve blood sugar levels.

Catechins and Epicatechins

Though most phytochemicals are known for providing the body with antioxidant power, these seem particularly potent in fighting the cell damage that causes disease.

Catechins are naturally occurring plant-based antioxidants found in green tea and a few other Camellia sinensis teas. Although green tea provides the unfermented version with the most variable array, black teas contain varying amounts of catechins, as well.

They can also be found in other foods, like fruits and raw cacao. Research on chocolate showed that catechins behave well as an antioxidant in the absence of milk – meaning the more milk is in your chocolate, the less antioxidant power it has. Add dark or raw chocolate, in the form of cacao powder or nibs, to your diet for more of this amazing free radical-fighting power.

The skins and seeds of fruits, including black grapes, blackberries, apples, cherries and raspberries also show the antioxidant properties of catechins and epicatechins.

In 2009, researchers found that in a group of diabetic patients, those who took catechins showed better Hemoglobin A1C levels and other improvements over those who used other drugs. While these phytochemicals alone won’t lower blood sugars, it helps to include them along with a balanced and healthy diet.

So, what's the big takeaway? Be aware of the types of foods you eat! So long as foods high in catechins or epicatechins do not add excessive calories, carbohydrates, or fats to your diet, you should see and feel a positive result. Go ahead and enjoy that tea and that little bit of dark chocolate – your body will thank you!

Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator

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