We’ve got one more reason for you to drink green tea (as if you needed another!). Yes, it still helps protect against heart disease and stroke. Yes, it still helps keep cancer at bay and alleviates the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy. And yes, it still helps protect against and treat type 2 diabetes. But recent research confirms it’s also good for the human brain. Turns out that green tea extract boosts working memory and might be a helpful remedy for psychiatric disorders such as dementia.
How Green Tea Impacts Brain Function
Previous studies have established a link between green tea and improved cognitive function, but prior to a recent study published in the journal Psychopharmacology, researchers didn’t know just how green tea boosts working memory. Research teams led by Professor Christoph Beglinger from the University Hospital of Basel and Professor Stefan Borgwardt from the Psychiatric University Clinics in Switzerland divided healthy male volunteers into two groups. Group one received a milk whey-based soft drink enhanced with 27.5 grams of green tea extract before performing working memory tasks. (Working memory is the active, immediate part of your memory system.) Group two received a placebo soft drink. Participants were not privy to whether they were drinking green tea or the placebo.
Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), researchers saw that subjects who drank the green tea extract showed increased connectivity between the parietal and frontal cortex. In other words, these two areas of the brain were better able to “talk to” and influence one another. Increased connectivity corresponded with enhanced cognitive performance on working memory tasks.
“The present study shows that green tea extract enhances functional connectivity from the parietal to the frontal cortex during working memory processing in healthy controls. Interestingly, this effect on effective connectivity was related to the green tea induced improvement in cognitive performance.”
Enjoy a Cup of Green Tea a Day
Green tea originates from China and India and is extracted from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis bush. It owes its unbeatable concentration of antioxidants and potency to its unoxidized leaves. Most other teas, such as black teas, go through a fermentation process that removes some antioxidants in the process. Try to buy organic green tea whenever you can, and be sure to steep for at least three minutes to make sure all those healthy catechins have brewed for full benefit!