New Insights Into Preventing Heart Disease

New research suggests that those of us who drink a lot of tea, or coffee in moderation, are less likely to die from heart disease than those who don’t drink these beverages. This finding adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests tea and coffee can help with preventing heart disease, but not stroke. Studies on coffee consumption and green tea have shown a reduced risk of death due to heart disease, evidence on stroke risk, and the risk of dying from heart disease were not conclusive.

Today 26.6 million (12%) of American adults have heart disease. There’s usually a gradual progression of symptoms over time, until they come so frequently or so severely that you must seek medical attention. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in this country and is the leading cause of serious, lasting disability. On average every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. has a stroke.

The latest research involved more than 37,000 people in the Netherlands who were followed for 13 years, making this one of the largest, and longest, studies to examine the impact of coffee and tea drinking on the health of the heart. The team used a questionnaire to get an idea of how much coffee or tea a subject drank, and at the end of the study they found that:

- Drinking 3-6 cups of tea a day brought a 45% lower risk of death from heart disease.

- Drinking more than 6 cups of tea a day was linked to a 36% lower risk of heart disease.

- Drinking as few as 2 but no more than 4 cups of coffee a day had a 20% lower risk of heart disease.

- Moderate coffee drinking was associated with a slight, but still not statistically significant, drop in death from heart disease.

- Neither coffee nor tea affected stroke risk.

While the amount of tea drunk sounds like a lot, a large glass of iced tea may have two to three cups of liquid. Try not to load up on the sugar, instead see if you can acquire a taste for the beverage in its natural state, or with a bit of lemon.

In case you’re wondering what type of tea… this is the first work to find benefits to drinking black tea, the variety more popular in the United States as well as in the Netherlands where the work was conducted.

Even more interesting, the association between tea and coffee drinking held up even when the researchers accounted for other factors usually tied to heart disease, things like smoking and lack of exercise. So if you’re healthy, and you enjoy tea or coffee, this study suggests drinking them brings no harm and might possibly do you some good.

Continues below…


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Drinking This Leads to Lower Heart Disease Risk… Continued…

Experts believe that the powerful antioxidants and flavonoids in both back tea and coffee may be the reason for the protective effect of these beverages. Other foods that have flavonoids include red grapes, red wine, dark chocolate, blueberries and red beans.

Since the study used only healthy volunteers, no one can say for sure if drinking these beverages will help existing disease. Relying on self reported data, and not getting specifics on which type of tea the subjects drank are all limitations of the work. You can read more about the study in the August 2010 online issue of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, a publication of the American Heart Association.

If you’re interested in preventing heart disease or reducing stroke risk, do everything you can to help yourself. Don’t smoke. Control any symptoms, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol that you have. Work closely with your doctor. Follow your treatment plan. Be as active as is safe for you and eat a healthy diet, and enjoy a guilt free cup or two of coffee or tea anytime you like.