Can you sip your way to heart health?

January 15th, 2021

Whether you like coffee or tea in the morning, both may have health benefits in addition to tasting great. Research shows coffee may protect drinkers from Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and liver disease. However, new research is showing some improved health effects for tea drinkers. Here are some of the benefits you may be able to reap if tea is your beverage of choice.

The Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing conducted a long-term study on more than 100,000 participants. Half the participants drank tea three times a week or more, and the other half didn’t. Researchers then followed up for years afterward, and their findings may surprise you. They found that people who drank tea more often were also more likely to remain healthy for longer. 

The people who drank tea more often were 20% less likely to have a stroke or develop heart disease. They were also 22% less likely to die from those things. Finally, they were 15% less likely to die from other causes.

The researchers also conducted a follow-up study on about 14,000 people. The people who drank tea in both studies were 56% less likely to experience fatal heart disease or stroke—a pretty remarkable difference!

These effects were more pronounced among green tea drinkers, rather than black tea drinkers. A smaller portion of the tea drinkers in the study preferred black tea. This made it difficult to observe the differential effects between types of tea. There does seem to be some different effect between types of tea, though.

Some experts believe the difference may come from polyphenols, which are found in black and green teas. They come from plants. Their benefits may include improved blood vessel function, increased good cholesterol, and reduced inflammation in the body. However, they don’t stay in the body for very long, which is why ongoing consumption may have such pronounced benefits over time.

These effects appeared more often in men. However, women generally experience lower rates of stroke and heart disease, which may explain why this occurred.

Despite the link between drinking tea and health over time, though, it’s important to note that the research was observational. While the link between tea and longevity may be legitimate, the study does not definitively prove these heart healthy benefits. Researchers expect to learn more as they continue the study.

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