Can Drinking Tea Prevent Heart Disease in Women?
You’ve probably heard (and used) expression, “But first, coffee.” If you’re preventing heart disease, you might want to rephrase: But first, tea!
Tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world. It’s high in flavonoids, plant-based compounds found in a wide range of foods including fruits, vegetables, nuts, tea, chocolate and wine. Flavonoids are a significant source of antioxidants, which protect cells against free radicals, helping to stave off chronic conditions like heart disease – the leading cause of death in the U.S.
Research suggests that drinking black tea and other varieties may contribute to your health later in life, according to a study published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, an American Heart Association journal.
Researchers from Edith Cowan University (Australia) based their study on their knowledge of flavonoids. Previous studies conducted by Edith Cowan University found that regularly eating apples – which are rich in flavonoids – lowered the risk for abdominal aortic calcification (AAC), a major predictor of heart disease and events like heart attacks and stroke. This led researchers to question the value other high-flavonoids foods have in protecting a woman’s heart from AAC.
Data on 881 women, ages 78 to 82, with BMI scores between 24 and 30 enrolled in the Perth Longitudinal Study of Ageing were put through a cross-sectional analysis. Food frequency questionnaires enabled researchers to calculate flavonoid intake. They used lateral lumbar spine images to measure abdominal aorta calcifications. Other variables such as demographics, lifestyle and dietary habits were taken into account.
Results showed that women who ate higher amounts of flavonoid-rich foods had a lower risk for AAC when compared to women eating lower flavonoid foods. More specifically, the food analysis found that women who drank between two and six cups of black tea every day had a significantly lower risk for AAC than women who didn’t drink black tea.
Teas are derived from the Camellia sinensis plant. They don’t have a substantial amount of nutrients, so any health benefits, along with their flavor and aroma, come from flavonoids. Other studies have linked the flavonoids in tea to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
How tea leaves are cultivated, harvested and processed determines the tea variety, flavor and color. Here are some common teas and benefits they’re credited with affording:
- Black - improves heart health by helping lower bad cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels; it also helps improved gut health.
- Green - strengthens brain function and strengthens immunity.
- Oolong – assists with fat metabolism and helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
- White – contributes to blood sugar control
- Pu-erh – helps protect blood vessels and stimulates the central nervous system, heart and muscles.
- Yellow – promote metabolism, helps lower cholesterol, contributes to dental health and helps lower risk for neurodegenerative diseases.
Tea has far less caffeine than coffee, but if you’re trying to limit caffeine, you may prefer a decaffeinated variation. Just look for a tea that used a decaffeination process called effervescence; it involves water and carbon dioxide and can retain most of the flavonoids. The organic chemical solvent method used by some manufacturers removes most of the flavonoids from the tea.
Keep in mind herbal teas aren’t from the Camellia plant. They’re made from dried herbs, spices, flowers, fruit, seeds, roots or leaves of other plants. On the positive side, they don’t have caffeine; however, their health benefits may vary from traditional tea.
“Tea is a very healthy beverage, but if you’re drinking it to manage a health condition, please talk to your primary care doctor,” says Bernard Kaminetsky, MD, medical director, MDVIP. “Your doctor can guide you as to which traditional and alternative treatments can help your condition and not interfere with medications and supplements you may be taking.”
Looking for a primary care physician? Consider partnering with an MDVIP-affiliated physician. An MDVIP-affiliated doctor can customize a wellness plan for you that can focus on a healthy diet. Find an MDVIP affiliate near you and begin your partnership in health »