A study published in Frontiers, a journal about plant science, found that certain foods contain compounds that may be able to slow or even stop the replication of new COVID-19 cells in the body. Green tea, cacao, dark chocolate and muscadine grapes all contain compounds that can bind to the main protease (Mpro) in COVID cells. Once bound to the Mpro, these substances may prevent the virus from replicating and spreading.
North Carolina State University professor of plant and microbial biology, De-Yu Xie, worked with one of his Ph.D. lab students, Yue Zhu, on the study. They set out to test how the Mpro of COVID-19 would react with different plant compounds. Using lab studies and computer simulations, the researchers focused on plant antioxidants and those known for being anti-inflammatory.
The compounds in dark chocolate, cocoa, two varieties of muscadine grapes and green tea all bound to the Mpro of COVID-19 in a way that hindered its function.
6. Protease Pockets Can Lead to COVID’s Downfall
It turns out Mpro of COVID-19 has pocket-like structures that make it vulnerable. The compounds of green tea, dark chocolate, cocoa and muscadine grapes essentially filled these main protease pockets, which caused Mpro dysfunction during the study.
This type of Mpro dysfunction apparently wouldn’t prevent someone from catching COVID-19, but it could weaken the virus’s power and slow or stop the spread once inside the body. Disabling viral protease function in this way seems like a promising step toward decreasing the duration and severity of the infection.
Protease is an enzyme essential to the life cycle of a virus cell. When a virus like SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) penetrates a host cell in the body, it goes through several processes that allow it to reproduce itself. Protease jumpstarts the chemical reactions that breakdown proteins for virus replication. Once replicated, the newly made virus cells are released into the body.
Therefore, if the Mpro of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is compromised because of compounds in green tea and other foods, the virus cannot reproduce and continue to spread through the body.
5. Green Tea – A COVID Superfood?
Of the four foods the researchers found to be the most effective at inhibiting COVID cell replication, green tea and muscadine grapes had the best results. Professor Xie told MSN Lifestyle why green tea was successful at not just inhibiting but fully eradicating COVID’s main protease. “Green tea has five tested chemical compounds that bind to different sites in the pocket on Mpro, essentially overwhelming it to inhibit its function.” Xie said.
The high amount of antioxidants in green tea, including polyphenols and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), classifies it as a superfood for the immune system.