January 18 : If you drink tea at least thrice a week, you may live longer and healthier, says a new study. According to a study by Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, China, habitual tea drinkers have lower risk of cardiovascular disease that cause death.
Dr. Xinyan Wang, the main author of the study, said that favourable health effects are seen more in people who consume green tea and who are habitual tea drinkers. Researchers studied people who had no history of heart attack, stroke, or cancer for more than seven years. The participants were divided between habitual tea drinkers, who consumed three or more times a week, and never or non-habitual tea drinkers, who drank less than three times a week.
What the study found
The study found that habitual tea drinkers lived healthier and their life expectancy increases. Researchers analysed that habitual tea drinkers who were aged 50 would develop coronary heart disease and stroke 1.41 years later than those who never or seldom drank tea. They would also live 1.26 years longer than the non-drinkers. As compared to non-tea drinkers, habitual tea drinkers also had a 20% lower risk of having heart disease and stroke, 22% lower risk of fatal heart disease and stroke, and 15% decreased risk of all-cause death.
Senior author of the study, Dr. Dongfeng Gu, explained that the main bioactive compounds in tea, known as polyphenols, cannot be stored in the body for long. Hence, a person has to be a habitual tea drinker over an extended period to have cardioprotective effect.
Green tea is better
The researchers further found that drinking green tea was linked to 25% lower risks for heart disease and stroke, fatal heart disease and stroke, and all-cause death. However, no significant links were found for black tea.
Dr. Gu noted that this could be due to two reasons. First, green tea is rich in polyphenols, which is known to protect against cardiovascular disease including high blood pressure and dyslipidaemia. Black tea, on the other hand, is fermented and during this process polyphenols get oxidised into pigments and lose their antioxidant effects. Second, black tea is often made with milk, which lowers the good health benefits of tea on vascular function.
The effect of tea also varies between male and female. The study found that the protective effects of habitual tea consumption were robust among men, but only modest for women.