Not a Fan of Green Tea? You Can Still Reap Its Benefits!
Green tea has long been touted for its health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, cancer prevention and weight loss, and it’s all thanks to naturally occurring chemicals found in the tea plant called catechins.
Catechins are a class of flavonoids – plant-based chemicals that help protect plants from environmental toxins, repair damage, and give certain foods, such as wine, tea and chocolate, their color and taste. They’ve also been found to have powerful antioxidant effects in people.
You can find catechins in black tea, too – 1.5 milligrams per half-cup versus green tea’s 2.6 milligrams – but if tea in general doesn’t tantalize your taste buds, there are plenty of other ways to soak up this super antioxidant.
Here are nine additional foods that are chock-full of catechins.
Apples are a rich source of phyto (“plant-based”) chemicals, including catechins, and have been linked to inhibiting cancer cell growth, reducing low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” kind) and lowering your risk of diabetes. The largest concentration of catechins lives within the apple’s skin, so skip the peeler to be sure you’re getting the good stuff.
Try this stuffed apple recipe.
Blackberries contain roughly 37 milligrams of catechins for every 100 grams (or 3/4 cup) – more than 14 times the same amount of brewed green tea! Fruits lose their catechins when processed, however, so be sure to munch on fresh, raw blackberries for the full effect. Blueberries, cranberries and raspberries store catechins as well, but blackberries are the top pick when it comes to catechin concentration. When in doubt, the darker the berry the more catechins it has.
Get your blackberry fill with this Blackberry Pomegranate Chicken recipe.
3. Dark Chocolate
Thanks to its catechin content, dark chocolate has been shown to benefit your heart by lowering blood pressure and improving vascular function. There are roughly 3.6 milligrams of catechins for every ounce of dark chocolate (the recommended daily serving), so savoring a small bite every day could be even more beneficial than a mug of green tea. Milk chocolate has only minimal amounts of catechins since it’s been further processed with milk and sugar, so stick to the dark stuff.
Find delicious chocolate recipes here.
4. Red Wine
Red wine gets its catechin concentration from the fermented grapes used to make it, and just like other fruits, the darker the better. Red wine can contain anywhere from 7-24 milligrams of catechins per cup while white wine holds little to no catechins. The overall antioxidant effect of red wine has been linked to reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, lowering blood pressure and inhibiting blood clots. Consuming too much alcohol can harm your health, however, so be sure to drink in moderation. According to the Mayo Clinic, that means one 5-ounce glass of wine a day for healthy adult women of all ages and men older than 65, and up to two glasses a day for men age 65 and younger.
Try this Red Wine Glazed Chicken recipe.
Cherries’ antioxidant effects have been linked to the prevention of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other inflammatory diseases. They’re also packed with potassium, fiber and vitamin C, and register low on the glycemic index, making them a perfect treat to tame your sweet tooth. They contain roughly 1.3 milligrams of catechins for every 3/4 cup.
Enjoy these Dark Chocolate Cherry Drops.
Much like green tea, guava leaves are loaded with catechins and other antibiotic properties. In fact, guava leaves can be steeped into a tea and used for a variety of medicinal uses, including as an anti-inflammatory and an antidiarrheal. In addition to its leaves, the pulp has more vitamin C than a pineapple, more potassium than a banana, is full of fiber, and contains lycopene, which can protect the skin against UV rays and prevent cardiovascular damage.
Next to apples, pears are one of the most commonly consumed forms of catechins among adults. And while they ring in with only .3 milligrams of catechins for every 3/4 cup, they still offer some great health benefits associated with the antioxidant. In one study, pear consumption was linked with easing the symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
Start your morning with this Pear & Maple French Toast Casserole.
8. Fava Beans
Fava beans are a super source for catechins, storing higher concentrations per serving than apples, pears and cherries combined. Raw fava beans have twice as many catechins as the cooked version, but if raw favas don’t sound tempting, the cooked beans still boast anywhere from 8 to 12 milligrams of catechins per 3/4 cup.
Try this Divine Tuscan Bean Spread.
9. Sweet & Purple Potatoes
Just like our berry and grape friends, potatoes benefit from higher catechin concentrations the darker their flesh is. It’s been found that purple and red-fleshed potatoes have twice the amount of flavonoids (including catechins) than white potatoes, and three to four times the amount of phenolic acids – another chemical found in plants that have antioxidant properties.