Tea, for two…or two, for

Posted by on Mar 14, 2013 in heart disease | 0 comments

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a reduced stroke risk?!

I have some exciting news for you dear readers: the American Heart Association announced yesterday that incorporating two cups of green tea and even a cup of coffee a day can help reduce stroke risk.

The accruing evidence for the value of green tea or coffee in the fight against certain diseases has been steady but mixed. In other words, there has been a mixed bag of findings with some research showing green tea’s advantage when it comes to heart disease risk (but not stroke) and coffee’s ability to reduce the likelihood of diabetes and certain types of cancer. But these studies have focused on different outcomes, have been small and have’t always included the same type of people in terms of age, gender or overall health.

This time, Japanese researchers asked over 83,000 adults about their daily green tea and coffee drinking habits and then followed them for 13 years. Over this time period, they also measured stroke, heart attacks and sudden death from heart disease, and accounted for factors that could also affect stroke risk, such as smoking, alcohol, BMI, diabetes, high blood pressure, exercise, and daily diet (fruit, vegetables and fish intake). The age range was between 45 and 74, the pool was pretty equally balanced in terms of gender and all were free of cancer and heart disease at the start.

So, what did they learn?

Drinking two to three cups of green tea a day was linked to a 14% lower risk of stroke; four or more cups was linked to a 20% lower risk. Among coffee drinkers, just one cup a day (6 oz serving, caffeinated) appeared lower stroke risk by as much as 20%. And for either group? Both had about a third lower risk of experiencing a type of stroke (intracerebral hemorrhage) in which a blood vessel bursts and there is bleeding inside the brain.

There are a lot of theories why green tea and coffee are heart disease busters. Green tea, for example, contains antioxidants called catechins, which are believed to protect the vascular system. Coffee contains substances that may decrease insulin sensitivity and improve overall blood glucose levels. Together, they appear to create a super heart protective benefit.

Heart disease is the number one killer of women and risk grows as we age. Diet and exercise, cigarette smoking and alcohol all play important roles. And it looks like just a few cups of green tea or a cup of coffee daily can help cut our risk substantially while still enriching our health in other ways. Cuppa anyone?!

 

If you are interested in learning more, the study is reported in Stroke: Journal of The American Heart Association. 

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