HEALTH and WELLNESS
Epidemiological studies suggest that antioxidant flavonoids in tea may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, possibly via protection of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) against oxidation. However, the extent of absorption of tea flavonoids and their accumulation in LDL during regular consumption of tea is not clear. Therefore we investigated plasma and lipoprotein levels of catechins during tea consumption and the impact on LDL oxidizability ex vivo.
Eighteen healthy adults consumed, in an incomplete balanced cross-over design, green tea, black tea, black tea with milk or water, one cup every 2 hr (eight cups/day) for three days. Blood samples were obtained in the mornings and evenings of each day. Plasma total catechin concentration was determined in all blood samples, and the distribution of catechins among lipoproteins was determined at the end of the third day (t = 60 hr). The resistance of LDL to copper-induced oxidation ex vivo was assessed before tea consumption and at t = 60 hr. Repeated tea consumption during the day rapidly increased plasma total catechin levels whereas they declined overnight when no tea was consumed. There was a gradual increase in plasma levels in the mornings (respectively, 0.08 microM vs. 0.20 microM on first and last day of black tea consumption) and evenings (respectively, 0.29 microM vs. 0.34 microM on first and last day of black tea consumption).
Green tea catechins were mainly found in the protein-rich fraction of plasma (60%) and in high-density lipoproteins (23%). Although present in LDL, the concentration of catechins in LDL was not sufficient to enhance the resistance of LDL to oxidation ex vivo. Addition of milk to black tea did not affect any of the parameters measured.
In conclusion, the present study shows that catechin levels in blood rapidly increase upon repeated tea consumption. The accumulation of catechins in LDL particles is not sufficient to improve the intrinsic resistance of LDL to oxidation ex vivo.