The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, may help explain why green tea has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease in previous studies.
To investigate, researchers pooled data from 14 previous trials involving more than 1000 study participants. In each of those studies, researchers randomly divided participants into two groups: one that drank green tea or took a green tea extract for periods ranging from three weeks to three months, and one that got an inactive preparation.
Researchers found that green tea consumption - both from drinking green tea and taking a green tea supplement could lower both total and LDL cholesterol levels.
On average, study participants who received green tea ended up with total cholesterol levels that were 7.2 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) lower than in the comparison group.
Their LDL, or "bad," cholesterol dropped 2.2 mg/dL, a decrease of slightly less than two percent.
There was no difference in HDL, or "good," cholesterol between the two groups.
The cholesterol-lowering effects of green tea may be due to chemicals known as catechins, which decrease the absorption of cholesterol in the gut, according to the researchers.
This isn't the first study to highlight the benefits of green tea. Previous studies have linked its consumption to a lower risk of heart disease, breast and ovarian cancers, and reduced arthritis pain.
For more information on the study, click here to read Leslie Beck's column in The Globe and Mail.
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