June 8/Toronto, Ontario/The Toronto Star -- Green tea has pretty much won the "superhero of drinks" title. It is already credited with defending you from cancer, protecting your brain and blood pressure from abnormalities, and shielding your skin from wrinkles and arteries due to aging's destructive plaques. Now, guarding your eyes may be added to the list.
Tokyo researchers report that components of the brew stop a leading cause of blindness in babies: abnormal retinal blood vessels. This time, tea's hailed inflammation blockers (called catechins) were not the only action heroes. Theanine (an amino acid) appears to have played War Machine to catechins' Iron Man.
A high-theanine green tea formula prevented the condition (retinopathy of prematurity) in lab rats. Yes, lab rats and newborn babies may be far apart on both the evolutionary and cute scales, but if the eyes of either are exposed to too much oxygen shortly after birth, blindness results.
So add sharp sight to your own list of reasons to keep drinking green tea. We already know that one Iron Man-like catechin (called epigallocatechin gallate) halts changes linked to glaucoma and macular degeneration. Now that theanine appears to be a potent sidekick, there may be more help than suspected for grown-up vision.
From the June 21, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition