A recent study found that catechins, the powerful antioxidants in tea, are easily destroyed by the digestive process. Adding other ingredients such as juice, soymilk, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C), however, helps more of the antioxidants survive the digestion process.
The study found that postdigestion levels of catechins with tea alone were less than 20 percent. Half tea and half soy or cow’s milk boosted the catechin level more than 50 percent; half rice milk boosted levels almost 70 percent. Thirty milligrams of ascorbic acid increased catechin levels by 74 percent, while adding juice increased them by up to 98 percent.
Catechins, particularly high in green tea, have been touted to support health and fight off disease. Catechin levels in black tea range from 5 to 50 mg per gram and 50 to 85 mg per gram in green teas.
“While we can’t make consumer recommendations until we finalize in vivo studies, it looks like a squeeze of lemon would be the way to go,” says lead researcher Mario G. Ferruzzi, Ph.D. “At least that way you are getting the vitamin C, and in the models we worked with, the juice increases the stability of the catechins and supports better absorption of them in the gut.”