Mother Earth Living

Natural Healing: Drink Black Tea to Prevent Heart Disease

Help out your heart; have a cup of black tea.
By Evelyn Leigh
March/April 2000
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Bottoms up! Drinking black tea can protect your heart.

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A daily “dose” of black tea may help avert severe cardiovascular disease, protecting you from heart attack, stroke, and other related ailments, a recent Dutch study shows.

According to the study, people who drank one or more cups of tea a day had a 46 percent lower risk of developing severe heart disease, and the risk was reduced by 69 percent for those who drank four or more cups a day. Unlike most tea studies, which have concentrated on the health benefits of green tea, this study focused on black tea, which is more commonly consumed by Americans and Europeans.

The tea study was part of a broader study that investigated the development of chronic diseases in a large group of Dutch men and women aged fifty-five and older. It was specifically designed to examine the association between tea drinking and the development of atherosclerosis, a hardening and narrowing of the coronary arteries that can lead to heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and other serious cardiovascular diseases.

Of the total number of 7,983 participants in the Dutch study, 3,454 healthy people were included in the tea analysis. Participants with any history of heart disease were excluded from the study.

Results suggest that tea drinking had a protective effect against the development of severe atherosclerosis but had no statistically significant effect on the development of mild or moderate atherosclerosis. Tea consumption appeared to be more protective for women than men, a result for which the investigators had no explanation.

The results of this study are in keeping with those of other studies demonstrating the health-protective effects of antioxidant plant compounds called flavonoids. For many Westerners, black tea is a major dietary source of flavonoids, which research has shown can play an important role in reducing risks of heart disease and other serious illnesses.

The researchers point out that in general, tea drinking in Western people is associated with a healthier lifestyle and diet. In addition, study participants who drank more tea also tended to be leaner and to consume less fat, alcohol, and coffee. Most people in the Netherlands take their tea without milk, and it is not clear how adding milk to tea might affect its protective properties.

Geleijnse, J. M., et al. “Tea flavonoids may protect against atherosclerosis. The Rotterdam Study.” Archives of Internal Medicine 1999, 159(18): 2170–2174.

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