My Healthy Heart BlogsBy Mari S
My Healthy Heart Blogs
By Mari S. Gold Drinking tea may protect against certain types of heart disease. Research has shown that tea drinkers have lower rates of coronary artery disease, fewer heart attacks, and may reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and atherosclerosis.
After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. And tea drinking may provide protection for your heart.
Flavonoids, found in black and green teas, as well as in some fruits and vegetables like apples, onions, and broccoli, protect the heart by preventing LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol, often known as the “bad” cholesterol, from becoming oxidized. Oxidized cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, the build up of plaque in your arteries. When plaque blocks an artery leading to the heart, it can cause a heart attack. Although this concept has yet to be definitively proved, research thus far implies a connection between tea drinking and reduced LDL.
Another heart benefit of drinking black tea is that it helps blood vessels relax, especially in anyone who has already experienced a heart attack. A study compared non-tea drinkers, moderate tea drinkers, meaning those who consumed fewer than 14 cups per week, and heavy tea drinkers, or those who drank more than 14 cups weekly. When the study was analyzed, findings showed the group who drank the most tea lived longer and had fewer second heart attacks.
Of course, it may be that that people who drink tea may live healthier lives in general than non-tea drinkers. More studies are needed to support these early findings.
A study in Saudi Arabia found that regular consumption of black tea reduced the risk of coronary artery disease by 50 percent. A small, shorter, U.S. study concluded that the health benefits of black tea showed up within two hours after a single cup of the tea was consumed. In Japan, a study of more than 40,503 adults aged 40-79 who drank three or more cups of green tea daily had fewer heart attacks than those who drank less tea.
The more processing tea leaves undergo, the darker they become. Green tea leaves are simply steamed quickly. Black and red teas are partially dried, crushed and fermented. Herbal teas are derived from an entirely different plant and are really infusions.
In the U.S., we usually enjoy a hot cup of tea when it’s cold or a refreshing pour of iced tea during hotter weather. If you drink tea for heart health, don’t add milk. Milk blocks tea’s beneficial effects as certain substances decrease the beverage’s effectiveness.
Mari S. Gold is has written for The New York Times, American Profile, Relish Magazine, TravelSmart, Indianapolis Monthly, and numerous e-zines. An avid cook and foodie, she contributes restaurant reviews to Zagat Guides and The Vermont News Guide, and is working on a young adult novel with a food theme. Married with grown children and two cats, she divides her time between New York City where she is director of communications for a major health care organization, and Dorset, Vermont.