Who’d have thought that a humble cup of tea could provide such powerful benefits? Of course its famous cousin Green Tea has had plenty of press, but regular old black tea…?
Well, according to researchers, black tea is pretty powerful stuff too!
Lenore Arab and her colleagues reviewed five meta-analyses of human studies of tea or flavonoid consumption and cardiovascular disease or stroke published between 2001 and 2011. (The disease-preventive properties of tea have been attributed to its flavonoid content.) The meta-analyses included 15 case-control studies, 43 cohort studies, and 1 cross-sectional study involving green and/or black tea intake.
- A 21% lower risk of both stroke incidence and mortality from stroke was observed among those with high tea intake in comparison with low, and for those with a high intake of flavonoids, the risk was 20% lower
- A similar reduction was associated with each three cups of tea consumed
- A search for new studies published subsequent to the meta-analyses included in the current research revealed additional studies that supported the protective effect of tea-drinking against stroke
- In a supplement to the December 2013 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that covered the Fifth International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Human Health, researchers from UCLA report their conclusion of a protective effect for tea drinking against stroke
Protective mechanisms for tea suggested by the authors include a reduction in blood pressure and improved endothelial function.
“Considerable observational human evidence suggests a preventive association of tea or flavonoid intake on specific subcategories of cardiovascular disease,” the authors write. “When the outcome is restricted to stroke incidence or mortality, the association seems to be the strongest and most consistent.”
“The strength of this evidence supports the hypothesis that tea consumption might lower the risk of stroke,” they conclude.
To get the most out of your cup of tea, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Brew for at least 5 minutes. It is suggested by the Tea Experts of The World that a brewing time of 2 minutes is optimal for the best flavour, but research suggests that letting it steep for longer will provide more health benefits. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that tea brewed for seven minutes had 60% more flavonoids than tea brewed for only three minutes!
- Go for a tea that is low in caffeine and tannins. Caffeine, especially if you’re having a few teas (or coffees!) a day will be a stress on your adrenals and the tannins will have a negative impact on your nutrient absorption from food. I personally use the brand Madura because their teas are naturally low in caffeine, and tannin-free.
- Don’t add sugar. Sugar is the devil and most certainly will undo any cardiovascular benefits the tea will provide. If you must sweeten it somehow go for a pinch of stevia or a smidge of honey.
- It doesn’t matter whether you like milk in your tea or not, it makes no difference to the flavonoids.
[Source: Life Extension 2013]