Drinking green tea ‘linked to a longer and healthier life’
Pop on the kettle and pour us a cuppa, because drinking tea at least three times a week could be linked with a longer and healthier life, suggests new research.
‘Habitual’ consumption of tea is associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease and all-cause death, potentially extending your life for a year and a half.
But you’ll need to be a green tea fan rather than drinking your regular builder’s brew.
Researchers analysed 100,902 participants with no history of heart attack, stroke, or cancer, putting them into two groups: habitual tea drinkers who drank tea at least three times a week and non-habitual tea drinkers, who drank tea less frequently.
The participants were followed up for an average of 7.3 years.
Compared to the people who never or rarely drank tea, habitual tea drinkers had a 20% lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
The research suggests a 50-year-old habitual tea drinker would live 1.26 years longer than someone who doesn’t regularly have tea.
If you continue to drink tea, the benefits continue.
Researchers also analysed changes in tea drinking behaviour in a subset of 14,081 participants, assessing them an average of 8.2 years after the initial survey and following up an average of 5.3 years after that.
Habitual drinkers who maintained their habit in both surveys had a 39% lower risk of incident heart disease and stroke, 56% lower risk of fatal heart disease and stroke, and 29% decreased risk of all-cause death compared to consistent never or non-habitual tea drinkers, the study suggests.
As this research was carried out in China, where the majority of habitual tea drinkers prefer green tea, the health benefits were only found for green tea. No significant association were observed for black tea – but as only 8% of habitual tea drinkers in the study preferred black tea, more research may be needed to explore this more fully.
Researchers do say, though, that their findings suggest there is a difference in effect from drinking different types of tea.
They reckon this is due to green tea’s high levels of polyphenols, which could protect against cardiovascular disease.
As black tea is fully fermented, it may lose its antioxidant effects.
It’s also worth noting that the study’s cut-off for ‘habitual’ drinking is just three cups a week – which pales in comparison to the amount most Brits are sipping.
There will need to be more research into whether there are benefits for drinking more tea, such as the average of four cups a day.
Gunter Kuhnle, professor of nutrition and food science at the University of Reading, said: ‘This study is an observational study and can therefore only establish an association – not a causal relationship.
‘It is not clear from the study whether there is any benefit from higher tea intake – and therefore there is no likely benefit from increasing tea intake by the majority of the British public.’