Many nutritionists and doctors often suggest drinking more tea as part of a heart-healthy diet plan. While tea has been a popular beverage for many years, it is only now that the health benefits of a simple drink such as tea are being hailed. New research has found that drinking tea three or more times in a week may lead to an improvement in heart health. Let us take a look at how drinking tea may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Benefits of Drinking Tea on Cardiovascular Health
New research recently published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology has found that drinking tea three or more times in a week can significantly improve a person’s cardiovascular health and also improve your longevity.(1)
These health benefits are being attributed to the presence of polyphenols in tea. Polyphenols are a compound commonly found in green and black tea, and some other foods as well.(2)
The long-term and large-scale study was carried out by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, and it followed 100,902 participants who had no prior history of having any type of heart-related conditions including heart attack, cancer, or stroke.
The participants were divided into two cohorts. One group consisted of the participants who drank tea at least three or more times a week, and the second group was made up of those who did not drink tea.
After regular follow-ups taken over a median time of 7.3 years, the researchers were able to successfully determine that the group who drank tea regularly were likely to stay healthier for a more extended period of time than the group that did not drink ea.
People who are frequent tea drinkers are 20 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease and suffer from a heart attack or stroke. They are also 22 percent less likely to die from stroke and heart disease, and 15 percent less likely to die from other health conditions.
The research team also undertook a follow-up study in which a subset of more than 14,000 people was studied. It was observed that the participants who maintained their habit of tea drinking in both the studies experienced significantly better benefits, which included a whopping 56 percent reduction in the risk of having any type of fatal heart disease and stroke.
However, many experts who gave their opinion on the results of this study believe that this was just an observational study and did not necessarily establish any firm association between tea drinking and heart health and longevity of a person.(3)
Benefits of Polyphenols
The researchers of the study and many other medical experts believe that the dramatic health benefits observed in regular tea drinkers can be attributed to the benefits associated with polyphenols, which are organic compounds found in both green and black tea.
Polyphenols are known to have benefits for the heart, including improving the functioning of the blood vessels. These organic chemicals work to help dilate the blood vessels further and also ensure that there is a reduction in any constriction in the blood vessels.(4, 5, 6)
Polyphenols are also known to increase the levels of good (HDL) cholesterol in the body, which also helps in protecting the heart.(7)
They also help lower inflammation in the body and makes the platelets in the blood less sticky. Platelets are the clotting factor present in our blood.(8, 9)
All these properties of polyphenols make them an ideal chemical for boosting cardiovascular health.
However, because polyphenols do not get stored in the body for long, you would need to be a regular and frequent tea drinker in order to reap the benefits from polyphenols.
So Which Tea Should You Choose – Green or Black?
The benefits for your cardiovascular health depends on the type of tea you are drinking. While both green and black tea are rich in polyphenols, the beneficial differences observed were more pronounced in the participants who were drinking green tea.
This is believed to be due to the fermentation process that is used for creating black tea. It is likely that this process dilutes the effectiveness of the polyphenols in black tea. Another fact to be considered here is also that black tea is usually diluted with milk.
In the study of participants, 49 percent were found to be regular green tea drinkers, and only eight percent liked black tea. While the percentage of black tea drinkers was too small in this study, but the findings still hint at a difference in cardiovascular benefits between the two types of tea.
Even though more research has been suggested by experts to conclusively prove that drinking tea benefits cardiovascular health, it is still a good idea to abandon the bottle of carbonated drinks to pick up a cup of tea. If you are a non-tea drinker, you can try to incorporate at least one cup of tea every week and then gradually increase this to two to three cups a week.
For people who definitely don’t like to drink tea, there can be other great ways of including polyphenols in your diet. Polyphenols can commonly be found in many foods such as berries, dark chocolate, and red wine. There are also many supplements available today that contain synthetic polyphenols, but keep in mind that the synthetic ones are not as beneficial as the natural thing.
- Wang, X., Liu, F., Li, J., Yang, X., Chen, J., Cao, J., Wu, X., Lu, X., Huang, J., Li, Y. and Zhao, L., 2020. Tea consumption and the risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality: The China-PAR project. European journal of preventive cardiology, p.2047487319894685.
- Dreosti, I.E., 1996. Bioactive ingredients: antioxidants and polyphenols in tea. Nutrition reviews, 54(11), pp.S51-S58.
- Sciencemediacentre.org. (2020). expert reaction to study looking at tea drinking, and health and longevity | Science Media Centre. [online] Available at: https://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-study-looking-at-tea-drinking-and-health-and-longevity/ [Accessed 19 Feb. 2020].
- Tangney, C.C. and Rasmussen, H.E., 2013. Polyphenols, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease. Current atherosclerosis reports, 15(5), p.324.
- Cheng, Y.C., Sheen, J.M., Hu, W.L. and Hung, Y.C., 2017. Polyphenols and oxidative stress in atherosclerosis-related ischemic heart disease and stroke. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2017.
- Khurana, S., Venkataraman, K., Hollingsworth, A., Piche, M. and Tai, T.C., 2013. Polyphenols: benefits to the cardiovascular system in health and in aging. Nutrients, 5(10), pp.3779-3827.
- Nagasako-Akazome, Y., Kanda, T., Ohtake, Y., Shimasaki, H. and Kobayashi, T., 2007. Apple polyphenols influence cholesterol metabolism in healthy subjects with relatively high body mass index. Journal of oleo science, 56(8), pp.417-428.
- Biesalski, H.K., 2007. Polyphenols and inflammation: basic interactions. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, 10(6), pp.724-728.
- González, R., Ballester, I., López-Posadas, R., Suárez, M.D., Zarzuelo, A., Martinez-Augustin, O. and Medina, F.S.D., 2011. Effects of flavonoids and other polyphenols on inflammation. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 51(4), pp.331-362.