White tea is being hailed as a possible solution to the obesity problem after experiments have shown its extract helps regulate fat tissue metabolism.
Scientists from Germany have been studying the effects white tea – the least processed version of the tea plant Camellia sinensis – and found that after treating human fat cells with the tea extract in laboratory conditions, fat incorporation in new cells was reduced.
Marc Winnefeld, who led the team of researchers from Beiersdorf AG, has said the extract induced a decrease in the expression of genes associated with the growth of new fat cells and also prompted existing cells to break down the fat they already contained.
The researchers say that, being less processed, white tea contains more of the ingredients thought to be active on human cells, such as methylxanthines (similar to caffeine) and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is believed to be responsible for many of the beneficial effects demonstrated in the study.
The study may be seen as a breakthrough, pointing to a natural and inexpensive way to treat an epidemic that is becoming widespread in the industrialized countries, raising the incidence of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes and putting a growing pressure on healthcare resources.