In vivo antioxidant effect of green and black tea in man

Eur J Clin Nutr. 1996 Jan;50(1):28-32.


Objective: Evaluation of the vitro antioxidant activity of green and black tea, their in vivo effect on plasma antioxidant potential in man and the effect of milk addition.

Design: The antioxidant activity of the tea, with and without milk, was tested in vitro by measuring the length of the peroxyl radical induced lag-phase. The in vivo activity was tested on two groups of five healthy adults. Each group ingested 300 ml of either black or green tea, after overnight fast. The experiment was repeated on a separate day, adding 100 ml whole milk to the tea (ratio 1:4 ). Five subjects acted as controls. The human plasma antioxidant capacity (TRAP) was measured before and 30, 50 and 80 min from the ingestion of tea.

Results: Both teas inhibited the in vitro peroxidation in a dose-dependent manner. Green tea was sixfold more potent than black tea. The addition of milk to either tea did not appreciably modify their in vitro antioxidant potential. In vivo, the ingestion of tea produced a significant increase of TRAP (P <0.05), similar in both teas, which peaked at 30-50 min. When tea was consumed with milk, their in vivo activity was totally inhibited.

Conclusions: The paper shows that tea possesses a strong antioxidant activity in vitro which is believed to be exerted by its polyphenols moiety. It also provides compelling evidence that tea has also a potent in vivo activity in man. The promptness of the in vivo response suggests that the absorption of the bioactive components of tea takes place in the upper part of the gastrointestinal system. The inhibition of this effect by milk is thought to be due to the complexation of tea polyphenols by milk proteins. These findings might help to clarify the putative role of dietary poly- phenols in modulating oxidative stress in vivo.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / classification
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Flavonoids*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Polymers / pharmacology
  • Polyphenols
  • Tea / classification
  • Tea / physiology*


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Phenols
  • Polymers
  • Polyphenols
  • Tea