An after-dinner cup of tea might help counteract some of the harmful effects of a fatty meal, a preliminary report from Japan suggests.
When people consume a high-fat meal, their blood lipid levels can become elevated. This in turn can trigger the production of damaging oxygen-free radicals, which may cause blood vessels to temporarily stiffen and constrict, particularly in people who already have cardiovascular disease.
But antioxidants in tea may help mop up these free radicals, thereby keeping the blood vessels supple and promoting healthy blood flow. In a small study, Japanese researchers evaluated the effects of two high-fat meals in 10 healthy volunteers aged 21 to 38. The meals contained equal amounts of fat (79%) but during one meal participants drank black tea, while during the other they drank water.
Results showed that forearm blood flow was strongest following the meal that included the tea, suggesting that the antioxidants in tea helped to keep blood vessels functioning properly. Tests also revealed that the antioxidant capacity of the participants' blood was greatest after they had consumed the meal that included tea.
In people with heart disease, a single fatty meal can be the trigger for a heart attack. And in healthy people, regular consumption of fatty meals contributes to the development of hardening of the arteries. Drinking tea with a meal may be an effective ways to counteract the stress on blood vessels that can result from fat intake.
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