A study of over 3,400 adults in Saudi Arabia found that those who drank more than 6 cups of tea per day had a more than 50% lower risk of coronary heart disease compared to tea abstainers, even after adjusting for other factors such as smoking, diet and obesity.
Antioxidants called flavonoids, found in both green and black teas, are thought to be potent weapons in the fight against heart disease. Tea, the most widely consumed beverage in the world, is a rich source of (these) antioxidants.
Numerous studies have trumpeted the cardiovascular benefits of green tea, which is the beverage of choice in much of the Far East.
But elsewhere in the world black tea reigns supreme, and fewer studies have examined its heart-healthy properties.
The researchers interviewed 3,430 Saudis ranging in age from 30 to 70. Study participants were quizzed on their dietary habits, history of smoking, coffee drinking, exercise and other factors. Just over 6% were diagnosed with coronary heart disease.
Tea drinking is a very social event in Saudi Arabia, and about 90% of those interviewed drank the beverage daily.
Comparing heavy drinkers to non-drinkers, the researchers found that those who consumed more than 6 cups of tea per day (about 20% of those interviewed) had a 50% lower risk of heart disease than those who did not drink tea.
Those findings held even after the researchers adjusted for other cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking, obesity, fat intake, blood cholesterol levels or sedentary lifestyle. In general, individuals with heart disease tended to drink less tea than healthier individuals--3.5 cups/day versus 4.5 cups/days, respectively.
Studies have suggested that flavonoids in tea may lower blood pressure and reduce stroke risk by about 12% for those drinking 3 cups of tea per day.
Flavonoids may also lower clotting risks and "hardening of the arteries," and reduce levels of LDL or "bad" cholesterol, the researchers suggest.
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