Epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, present in a limited number of plant-based foods and beverages, is not only a powerful weapon against disease but also a source of energy and a way to stimulate your metabolism. This potent antioxidant has a wide array of medicinal properties, including the ability to inhibit the proliferation of some forms of cancer. EGCG also appears to protect against other health threats, including cardiovascular disease.
Potent Antioxidative Properties
The key to EGCG’s health benefits lies in its powerful antioxidative properties, according to Ingrid Kohlstadt, M.D., author of “Food and Nutrients in Disease Management.” As an antioxidant, EGCG searches out and neutralizes your body’s free radicals, which are widely implicated as a cause of disease and are also responsible for the adverse effects of aging. Kohlstadt points out that EGCG has significantly higher antioxidant activity than either vitamins C or E, both of which are regarded as valuable antioxidants. Research by the University of Kansas in the late 1990s showed that EGCG is not only superior in antioxidative potency to vitamins C and E but also twice as effective as resveratrol, found in grape skins and red wine, in scavenging free radicals. EGCG also inhibits the proliferation of cells -- a particularly useful property in fighting the spread of cancer.
Green, Oolong and Black Teas
The dried leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, from which black, green and oolong teas are brewed, are among the world’s richest sources of EGCG, according to the USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods. However, differences in processing methods result in widely varying EGCG content among teas. Because the leaves for brewing green tea are unfermented and thus less oxidized, green tea boasts the highest level of EGCG. Green tea leaves have 7.1 grams of EGCG per 100 grams, compared with 3.4 grams for oolong and 1.1 grams for black tea leaves. The brewed teas themselves have 77.8 milligrams of EGCG per 100 grams for green tea, 34.5 milligrams for oolong and 9.3 milligrams for black tea.
Also very high in EGCG content is carob flour, a cocoa-like substance derived from the ground pods of the carob plant, or Ceratonia siliqua. Carob flour is used in the production of caffeine-free chocolate-like confections and other cocoa-type products. Carob flour has 109.5 milligrams of EGCG per 100 grams, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
A handful of nuts and fruits contain measurable amounts of EGCG. Although their EGCG content is relatively small, these foods contain a wide array of other nutrients that make them attractive from a nutritional standpoint. Included in this group are pecans with 2.3 milligrams of EGCG per 100 grams, filberts or hazelnuts with 1.1 milligrams, raw cranberries with 1 milligram and pistachios with 0.4 milligrams per 100 grams, according to data from the USDA.