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EGCG: What is it, and What are the Benefits

January 28, 2021

EGCG: What is it, and What are the Benefits

Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) might sound like an unfamiliar term, but if you’re someone who enjoys drinking green tea, you’ve most likely reaped some of its incredible health benefits. 

EGCG is a plant compound that is thought to fight inflammation, aid in weight loss, prevent heart disease, and much more. It naturally occurs in some plants, but it’s also available as a dietary supplement in the form of an extract.

A significant amount of research has been done on this unique compound. The findings reveal that there are a variety of benefits EGCG offers for one’s overall health. Keep reading to learn all about this compound and how to incorporate it into your routine.

What is EGCG?

EGCG, which is formally known as epigallocatechin gallate, falls into the category of a catechin, which is part of a larger group of plant compounds known as polyphenols.

Catechins have antioxidant properties and are known for their ability to protect the body against cellular damage caused by free radicals. Additionally, catechins like EGCG have been shown to reduce inflammation and fight against conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and even certain types of cancers.

While EGCG is best known for being the major active compound in green tea, it also occurs naturally other foods, such as:

  • Black, white, and oolong teas
  • Fruits like blackberries, strawberries, cherries, kiwis, peaches, apples, pears, and avocados
  • Nuts like pistachios, hazelnuts, and pecans

EGCG Health Benefits

A variety of animal, test-tube, and human studies point to the various health benefits EGCG can offer. While there is still much more research to be done on the topic, some proven health benefits of EGCG include:

Reduces Inflammation

Free radicals are unstable atoms that damage cells, which can cause aging and in some cases, the development of diseases. When the production of free radicals outweighs the antioxidants that fight them, this can lead to oxidative damage—which is likely to cause stress and inflammation in the body. 

Fortunately, EGCG is an antioxidant that can protect your cells from the effects of oxidative damage. It suppresses inflammation and stress in the body, which may reduce your risk for developing chronic illnesses. 

Promotes Heart Health

EGCG has been shown to reduce risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. 

In fact, a 2012 study found that taking a daily dose of green tea extract over the course of three months significantly reduced blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation in participants. For this reason, EGCG can be a great addition to your daily routine—no matter your age or the condition of your heart.

Supports Brain Health

Turns out that EGCG may also play a role in keeping your mind sharp. Studies have found that EGCG can improve neurological cell function and prevent degenerative brain diseases.

Specifically, studies done on humans have found a connection between higher green tea intake and a lower risk of brain decline caused by age. It’s unclear whether these results come directly from EGCG or other components of green tea, so more research needs to be done on the topic to prove this to be 100% true. 

With that being said, sipping on green tea is a great choice if you’re looking to keep your brain in tip-top shape. 

Aids in Weight Loss

Green tea is known for its ability to aid in weight loss, which comes from the combination of its caffeine and EGCG content. 

Some studies have found that drinking green tea is associated with lower weight and body fat, especially when this is done over the long-term. While EGCG alone might not contribute to weight loss, the combination of EGCG and caffeine is promising.

EGCG Skin Benefits

In addition to keeping your body in good health, EGCG has been linked to a variety of benefits for the skin—both when consumed and applied topically. This explains the rise in popularity of EGCG being used in skincare products.

So what exactly does EGCG do for the skin? Here’s a quick breakdown of its benefits: 

Treats and Prevents Acne

If you’re someone who struggles with acne, green tea may be your new best friend. 

Acne is often caused by the overproduction of sebum by oil glands, which clogs pores and creates an environment where bacteria can grow. EGCG, however, lowers lipid levels and is anti-androgenic, which means it’s effective for reducing the amount of sebum produced by the skin. In turn, this may slow or completely stop acne from developing.

Whether you suffer from stubborn breakouts or have oily skin in general, using a skincare product formulated with EGCG may help to keep skin from overproducing oil. This can help to keep your complexion clear and lessen the need to use blotting papers throughout the day. 

Reduces Risk for Skin Cancer

The polyphenols found in green tea, which include EGCG, have been shown to help prevent skin disorders that are caused by solar UVB light. These include melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers, as well as photoaging.

EGCG isn’t a replacement for SPF, but when used in combination with a daily sunscreen, it can help to keep your skin healthy and protected.

Fights Signs of Aging

There’s a reason why green tea is commonly found in the ingredient lists of anti-aging skincare products. Several studies have shown that when consumed and applied topically, green tea can improve skin elasticity and preserve its youthful appearance.

In addition, EGCG specifically has been shown to:

  • improve moisture retention
  • smooth skin texture
  • reduce the formation of wrinkles
  • calm inflammation
  • fight free radicals
  • promote a radiant complexion

Incorporating EGCG Into Your Routine

Whether it’s sipping green tea, taking an EGCG supplement, or applying it topically with skincare products, there are several different ways to incorporate this compound into your routine.

In Your Diet

While research is lacking on specific dosage of EGCG, consuming up to 800mg daily has been proven to be safe in studies. Green tea contains about 50-100mg of EGCG per cup, so if you’re looking to consume a higher amount, you may want to opt for a supplement. 

It’s important to note that supplements are not always regulated, and they’re not for everyone. For example, EGCG supplements may not be best for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. In some cases, the compound shouldn’t be combined with prescription medications. 

If you’re considering introducing an EGCG supplement into your routine, it’s best to consult with your doctor first to ensure that it’s the best choice for you.

In Your Skincare Routine

From cleansers, to toners, to moisturizers, green tea is found in all kinds of skincare products today. Generally, EGCG has shown to be a safe skincare ingredient and can be used in combination with other antioxidants such as vitamins C and E.

As with any skincare product, however, always be sure to do your research and pay close attention to your skin’s reaction. Everyone’s complexion is different, so if you experience a negative reaction or are unsure about using a new product, talk with your dermatologist.

Overall, EGCG is an amazing compound that can offer powerful benefits for your skin and health. Whether it’s using a skincare product with EGCG or swapping your daily cup of coffee for green tea, there are plenty of ways to add an extra boost of this antioxidant to your routine.