Healthy Hot Beverages

November 01, 2010

Good news for all the coffee and tea drinkers out there!

Good news for all the coffee and tea drinkers out there! Dutch researchers found that drinking several cups of tea or coffee a day appears to lower the risk of heart disease by more than one third. Coffee and tea’s benefits appear to outweigh their risks - if any. The study appeared earlier this month in the American Heart Association’s journal, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.

After following 40,000 healthy people for 13 years, researchers found that when they compared heart disease rates with coffee and tea consumption, those who drank between three and six cups of tea per day were 45 percent less likely to die from heart disease than those who consumed less than a cup a day.

Drinking coffee or larger amounts of tea also offered protection against heart disease mortality, but not as strong. Those who drank between two and four cups of coffee per day reduced their risk by 20 percent compared with those who either consumed more or less. Beneficial effects remained after adjusting for other heart disease risk factors, such as smoking and exercise level.

Neither coffee nor tea consumption appeared to protect against dying from any other causes such as cancer. It is equally important to note that participants in the study were healthy and not already suffering from heart disease.

The study was conducted in the Netherlands, where black tea is the most widely consumed tea. While most studies looking into tea’s benefits focus on green tea, this study highlights the health benefits associated with black tea, as well as coffee.

Research has yet to pinpoint the exact components of coffee and tea that are beneficial to our health; most research thus far has focused on the polyphenols, specifically the flavonoids present in tea and coffee. Studies isolating individual flavonoids (and other foods that contain them- wine, berries, and dark chocolate) have confirmed antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and other health-promoting benefits in the body.

What types of tea and coffee should you look for in the market?

Look for fair trade certified, which ensures that farmers are getting paid fairly, and that your tea and coffee are grown sustainably.

Choose loose leaf tea for a rich tea experience, but if loose leaf is not available at your local grocer, read tea labels for ingredients – stay away from those teas with artificial flavors and added sugars.

Brewing your own tea and coffee at home is the most cost effective, and nutritious option. A study from the American Chemical Society found little to no antioxidant, polyphenol activity in bottled tea beverages - so your best bet is to brew a large pot of tea or coffee at home, let it cool and drink it as an iced beverage during the day.

When drinking coffee or tea, do keep in mind caffeine content.