Tea drinkers around the world have welcomed new research from the European Society of Cardiology suggesting drinking the popular beverage at least three times a week is associated with improved health and a longer lifespan. The findings were published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, with first author Dr. Xinyan Wang explaining, "Habitual tea consumption is associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease and all-cause death."
In China, citizens consume around 80,00 tons of green tea every year, representing around 50% of total global consumption. Brits are also avid tea drinkers, though varieties such as English Breakfast and Earl Grey are more popular.
Habitual tea consumption linked to improved health and longevity
Using data from the China-PAR project2, Wang and his team analysed more than 100,000 patients with no pre-existing heart, stroke or cancer conditions. Participants were separated into two groups, habitual tea drinkers who consumed the beverage three or more times a week and non-habitual tea drinkers who consumed tea less than three times a week or not at all. All participants were followed for an average of 7.3 years, with the findings suggesting that regular tea consumption, antioxidant-rich green tea in particular, is linked to improved health and longevity.
Specifically, habitual tea drinkers enjoy a 20% lower risk of developing heart disease or experiencing a stroke. They're also 22% less likely to develop a fatal heart disease condition. Overall, regular tea drinkers have a 29% lower risk of all-cause death than their non-tea drinking counterparts.
"The protective effects of tea were most pronounced among the consistent habitual tea drinking group. Mechanism studies have suggested that the main bioactive compounds in tea, namely polyphenols, are not stored in the body long-term. Thus, frequent tea intake over an extended period may be necessary for the cardioprotective effect," says senior author Dr. Dongfeng Gu.
Tea drinkers regularly replenish polyphenols
Gu and his team muse that the health benefits of habitually drinking green tea could be linked to increased consumption of polyphenols, which actively protect the body against cardiovascular disease and conditions such as high blood pressure and dyslipidaemia. While green tea is relatively unprocessed, black tea is fermented and dried out which can cause polyphenols to oxidise and lose their antioxidant properties. Gu also notes black tea is often served with milk, which could cancel out the health benefits of the leaves.
Moving forward, the authors hope to explore the health benefits of drinking green tea further and potentially use the findings to develop dietary guidelines. Want to know more about the latest public health breakthroughs? Don't miss 'Tackling Dementia with Cutting-Edge Brain Imaging Technology' which focusses on the state-of-the-art PET-MR scanners established by Dementias Platform UK (DPUK).