Buyer beware: green tea extracts

CapsulesAre you already contemplating waist management strategies for the new year, even  as you’re  still  partaking  of the season’s decadent delights? If so, here’s one to scratch off your list of possible options: green tea extract.

While those interested in waist management may have followed the increasing number of studies  linking green tea with elevated metabolic rates and increased calorie burning, many supplements may not deliver the desired effect.

For example, some of the weight loss multivitamin formulations containing these green tea compounds, called catechins, simply don’t contain enough to make any difference.

But the real worry are those  green tea supplements that are too potent. In some cases, they may act as pro-oxidants, speeding up oxidation rather than slowing it down as the antioxidants in the beverage do.

A far more serious issue, though, has been emerging. Back in 2007,  Rutgers University researchers   reported increasing numbers of cases of  liver damage with high dose supplements.  While  drinking moderate amounts of   green tea each day  doesn’t appear to be  harmful to the liver, supplements can contain the amount of polyphenols found in 50 cups. Not exactly moderation.

The latest research on liver  damage caused by a range of dietary supplements comes from the Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network, a U.S. group of liver specialists across the country. Body building supplements and green tea extracts were at the top of the list of culprits.  They reported that these preparations were responsible for almost 20 per cent of drug-related serious liver injuries that led to hospitalization.  For some, the consequences included  liver failure and the need for liver transplants.  That’s nearly triple the figures from a decade ago. Researchers speculate that the numbers are even much higher for liver problems as only the most serious were included in their report.

If you’re looking for green tea’s benefits, put your kettle on and brew up your perks. I’ll have more on green tea’s wide range of benefits in the new year.

Stay tuned. And in the meantime, look to healthy eating strategies for safer  girth control.

Have you had any negative experiences with any diet aids? Please share in the comment section below.

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Categories: Research Roundup, Weight Management

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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