Tea catechins, (-)-epicatechin (EC), (-)-epigallocatechin (EGC), (-)-epicatechin gallate (ECG), and (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), have been shown to be epimerized to (-)-catechin (C), (-)-gallocatechin (GC), (-)-catechin gallate (CG), and (-)-gallocatechin gallate (GCG), respectively, during heat treatment. In this study, we examined the effect of tea catechins rich in ECG and EGCG and heat-treated tea catechins rich in CG and GCG on postprandial hypertriacylglycerolemia in rats. Both tea catechins and heat-treated tea catechins suppressed postprandial hypertriacylglycerolemia. Lymphatic recovery of 14C-trioleoylglycerol in rats cannulated in the thoracic duct was delayed by the administration of tea catechins and heat-treated tea catechins. Tea catechins and heat-treated tea catechins had the same effect on all variables tested. These catechin preparations dose-dependently inhibited the activity of pancreatic lipase in vitro. When purified catechins were used, only those with a galloyl moiety inhibited the activity of pancreatic lipase. These results suggest that catechins with a galloyl moiety suppress postprandial hypertriacylglycerolemia by slowing down triacylglycerol absorption through the inhibition of pancreatic lipase. Because postprandial hypertriacylglycerolemia is a risk factor for coronary heart disease, our results suggest that catechins with a galloyl moiety may prevent this disease.
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