Green tea is a staple of cultures worldwide. You might already know that it has been found to reduce inflammation, fight cancer, increase metabolism, burn more fat, protect the brain, reduce blood sugar levels, and improve insulin sensitivity. It turns out that it can also help prevent ischemic heart disease (IHD, also known as coronary artery disease). IHD occurs when there is decreased blood and oxygen flow to the heart tissue. This can happen when the arteries are narrowed and restricted by plaque buildup (atherosclerosis). Researchers from China examined the correlation between ischemic heart disease and tea consumption in a study published in the British Medical Journal.
Green tea is the traditional tea of China. For 7.2 years, they documented 24,665 cases of IHD and 3959 major coronary events (MCEs). They followed men and women between the ages of 30-79 who didn’t have cancer, heart disease or stroke. Using grams of tea leaves, they measured consumption. Among the cases for both IHD and MCEs they found fewer incidents among green tea drinkers.
Green tea has properties that are known to benefit the heart like lowering LDL cholesterol. Harvard Health reported that those who drank 28 percent more green tea had a lower risk of coronary artery disease than those who drank the least green tea. Black tea had no effect on heart risk.
How are green tea and black tea different? According to the BBC’s Good Food blog, “Green tea is higher in protective polyphenols. The major polyphenols in green tea are flavonoids, the most active of which are catechins and epigallocatechin gallate which function as powerful antioxidants.” However, another study found black tea just as beneficial as green tea.
Antioxidants help the immune system fight off disease, infection and are good for heart health. Another study from The Netherlands found that antioxidant flavonoids might reduce the risk of death from coronary heart disease in elderly men.
So, drink your tea… but skip the milk. Adding milk to dark tea is not beneficial. The European Society of Cardiology published a study that found the milk protein, casein, deactivates the healthy properties of dark teas. I do not recommend that my patients consume dairy products, and this is yet another validating reason.
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