Tea and Heart Health: Benefits of Long-Term Consumption
A new study from China’s Wuyishan Municipal Hospital reconfirms the benefits of regular tea drinking on preventing hardening of the arteries. Arterial stiffening can reduce lifespan and increase risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart failure and stroke.
The study, “A Cross-sectional Study of the Relationship between Habitual Tea Consumption and Arterial Stiffness,” was led by cardiologist Qing-fei Lin and published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
More than 6,500 men and women ages 40-75 in the Fujian Province were studied. They were divided into four groups – those who consumed tea regularly for 10 or more years, 6-10 years, and 1-5 years and those who did not drink tea regularly. “Regular consumption” was defined as those drinking one or more cups a day for at least 12 months.
Tea drinking was measured by self-reported survey. Brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (ba-PWV) was measured which determines arterial stiffness in the aorta and in the peripheral artery of the heart. Those that drank tea regularly for 6+ years had less thickening of artery walls and greater elasticity in the arteries. Stiffening was lowest among those consuming habitually for 10+ years. Those that drank 10 or more grams of tea daily had the best benefit.
The effect of the tea may be related to a chemical reaction in the endothelial cells of the artery that is triggered by catechins. Catechins may release nitrous oxide, making the arteries more flexible.
While the study had its limitations, such as only including people from a small geographic region and relying on self-reporting for consumption, the results are in line with previous studies on tea and heart health.