Green tea (Camellia sinensis, Theaceace) is the second most popular beverage in the world and has been extensively studied for its putative disease preventive effects. Green tea is characterized by the presence of a high concentrations of polyphenolic compounds known as catechins, with (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) being the most abundant and most well-studied. Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a complex condition that is defined by the presence of elevated waist circumference, dysglycemia, elevated blood pressure, decrease serum high-density lipoprotein-associated cholesterol, and increased serum triglycerides. Studies in both in vitro and laboratory animal models have examined the preventive effects of green tea and EGCG against the symptoms of MetS. Overall, the results of these studies have been promising and demonstrate that green tea and EGCG have preventive effects in both genetic and dietary models of obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia. Various mechanisms have been proposed based on these studies and include: modulation of dietary fat absorption and metabolism, increased glucose utilization, decreased de novo lipogenesis, enhanced vascular responsiveness, and antioxidative effects. In the present review, we discuss the current state of the science with regard to laboratory studies on green tea and MetS. We attempt to critically evaluate the available data and point out areas for future research. Although there is a considerable amount of data available, questions remain in terms of the primary mechanism(s) of action, the dose-response relationships involved, and the best way to translate the results to human intervention studies.
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