Why your daily cuppa is good for your heart


London: Women who drink tea may be protecting themselves from building up plaque in their arteries, so reducing their risk for heart disease and stroke, according to the results of a study conducted in Paris.

Commenting on the study, Dr Catherine Hood from the TEA ADVISORY PANEL (TAP) notes: “This research study found that older women who reported drinking at least three cups of tea a day were less likely to have plaque in the carotid arteries in their neck than those drinking less tea. The build up of plaque in the arteries contributes to atherosclerosis, which is a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

“This was a large study involving 2,613 men and 3,984 women, aged about 73 years old. Their carotid artery plaque was measured by ultrasound and assessed in relation to tea drinking and other dietary habits and medical and personal history, information about which was obtained during individual interviews with the study subjects.

“Carotid plaques were evident in 45% of non-tea drinking women, in 42.5% of women who reported drinking 1-2 cups of tea daily and in only 33.7% of those reporting drinking three or more cups a day. Findings in dietary studies are often confounded by other factors such as presence of disease in the subjects and other lifestyle behaviours. However, in this study, findings did not depend on whether the women were smoking or not, whether or not they took hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and whether or not they suffered from vascular disease.

“The same inverse association between drinking three or more cups of tea a day and carotid plaque was found in women aged more or less than 75 years, with a body mass index of less or more than 27, with or without hypertension. No significant interaction was found with level of education or fruit and vegetable intake. In short, the association between increased tea consumption and reduced carotid plaque was independent of dietary and lifestyle habits, age and major cardiovascular risk factors.”

Guest advisor to TAP, Dr Sanjay Prasad from the heart and stroke charity CORDA notes in conclusion: “Several studies suggest that increased tea consumption is associated with reduced cardiovascular disease, including atherosclerosis and vascular event.[3] However, according to the researchers of this study, it is the first to show that increased tea consumption is associated with reduced carotid plaque, so suggesting a protective effect of drinking three or more cups a day on carotid atherosclerosis. Further work is required to validate these findings.”

The Tea Advisory Panel: The Tea Advisory Panel is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from the UK TEA COUNCIL, the trade association for the UK tea industry. The Panel has been created to provide media with impartial information regarding the health benefits of tea. Panel members include nutritionists; dieticians and doctors. For further information please call + 44(0)207 8089756.

1. CORDA was founded in 1976 to support clinical research into the prevention of heart disease and stroke using non-surgical methods. They have provided vital funding for the development of ultrasound and other non-invasive techniques used by the researchers at the Institute of Child Health to evaluate cardiovascular disease in the young. In fact, CORDA funded the world’s first cardiovascular magnetic resonance scanner at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London. Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) does not involve harmful X-rays. It provides the most powerful pictures of the body without surgery. As a result CORDA has enabled major medical advances in the understanding of the causes and development of heart disease and stroke. To find out more about CORDA log on to www.corda.org.uk.