London, June 1 : Love your cup of green tea? Besides playing a role in weight loss and boosting immunity, green tea -- rich in antioxidants -- may also help prevent deaths due heart attacks and strokes caused by atherosclerosis -- a condition of narrowed artery walls due to fat build-up, claims a study.
According to the researchers, a compound called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), found in green tea, breaks up and dissolves potentially dangerous protein plaques found in the blood vessels.
"The health benefits of green tea have been widely promoted and it has been known for some time that EGCG can alter the structures of amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer's diseas," said David Middleton, Professor at Britain's Lancaster University.
"Our results show that this intriguing compound might also be effective against the types of plaques which can cause heart attacks and strokes," he added.
"..by engineering the molecule slightly, we might be able to make new medicines to treat heart attack and stroke," said Jeremy Pearson Professor and Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation -- a Britain-based charity organisation.
The study, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, showed that EGCG binds to the amyloid fibres of a protein called apolipoprotein A-1 (apoA-1), which converts the fibres to smaller soluble molecules that are less likely to be damaging to blood vessels.
The team is now working on finding ways of introducing effective amounts of EGCG into the bloodstream without it being necessary to drink large and potentially harmful quantities of green tea.