By David Saunders | UPDATED: 05:28, 09 February 2020
With this month’s focus on heart health, it’s good to know that enjoying a cup of tea ranks alongside other cardiovascular health tips, such as exercising, eating your greens and using olive oil in cooking.
Recent published studies, analysed by the Tea Advisory Panel (www.teaadvisorypanel.com), confirm that the rich polyphenol content of tea really does a lot of good for your heart.
Commenting on these studies on behalf of the Tea Advisory Panel, dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton noted: “In a large review, which combined 13 cohort and cross-sectional analyses, 30 laboratory studies and 13 clinical trials, regular tea consumption was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The laboratory and clinical trials supported the protective effects of tea and its bioactive compounds against heart issues.
“This is confirmed by a new study of more than 100,000 Chinese adults who were followed for 7 years. Regular tea drinkers were 20% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those who didn’t drink tea. Habitual tea drinkers lived for 15 months extra on average and enjoyed an extra 17 months without any cardiovascular disease compared with non-drinkers of tea.”
GP, Dr Gill Jenkins and an advisor to TAP adds: “The ‘secret ingredient’ in tea is the flavonoids, according to a study published this year in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology. Flavonoids – part of the polyphenol family – are natural compounds made by the tea plant as it grows. Researchers found that flavonoids improve the performance of blood vessels – called ‘endothelial function’ – in helping to control blood pressure. By this action, flavonoid-rich foods such as tea, fruit and vegetables, can help to support cardiovascular health.
“Both black and green teas have similar heart health effects but differ in their actions. A study found that a flavonoid present in green tea, called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), not only acted as a powerful antioxidant, but helped blood vessels to relax and reduced stickiness of white blood cells – all factors which help to prevent cardiovascular disease.
Dr Carrie Ruxton adds: “And the benefits of tea go beyond heart health. A study in the International Journal of Molecular Science concluded that “tea shows various health functions, such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immuno-regulatory, anticancer, cardiovascular-protective, anti-diabetic, anti-obesity, and hepato-protective effects”.
“National Heart Month gives us all an opportunity to take better care of our hearts. Putting on the kettle is a good first step.
“With its rich flavonoid content – which explains the impressive clinical effects on blood pressure, endothelial function, inflammation and lowering oxidative stress – tea should be part of every heart health diet. The best evidence is for around four cups daily – regular black or green tea – which can also be an excellent way to hydrate.
“It can be difficult to navigate all the information we receive on heart health – from stopping smoking to taking more exercise, drinking less alcohol and managing our weight. From a dietary perspective, the focus really should be on plants, including fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and tea, since these all contain valuable bioactive substances such as flavonoids and other polyphenols that can have a positive impact on health and wellbeing”.