Cardiovascular disease should not be a major concern for some regular tea and coffee drinkers. Tea lovers and java junkies can debate among themselves all day about which is better, but current science and evidence show that either one is just fine. High or moderate tea intake and moderate coffee consumption are correlated with reduced risks of heart disease and stroke, according to a Japanese study published in the March 2013 issue of Stroke. The study followed 82, 369 Japanese adults between ages 45 and 74 for almost 13 years between 1995 to the end of 2007. When researchers compared those who drank green tea two to three times a day with those who drank more than four times a day, those who drank more had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke than those who drank fewer times. Likewise, the relationship was found between those who drank one to two cups of coffee a day versus those who drank coffee three to six times a week.
This is similar to a previous Dutch study that was published in the January 2010 issue of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. Researcher Yvonne van der Schouw, Ph.D., and her colleagues from University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands observed over 35, 500 subjects for 13 years. What they found was that those who drank more than six cups of tea a day cut their risk of cardiovascular disease by 35 percent lower than those who drank less than one cup a day. For coffee drinkers, drinking two to four cups a day reduced cardiovascular disease risk by about 20 percent lower than those who drank one or none a day. Even though moderate coffee consumption was not considered significant, it still contributed to the lowering of the risk. Unlike the Japanese study, the Dutch researchers did not find any association between tea or coffee consumption with lower risks of stroke.
Van der Schouw and colleagues also observed that Dutch coffee and tea drinkers had very different health behaviors that may contribute to why the results of the coffee-drinking sample had a lower percentage of risk reduction of cardiovascular disease than their tea-drinking counterparts. Many coffee drinkers, they observed, tend to smoke and have a less healthy diet compared to tea drinkers. Therefore, it is possible that the percentage of reduction of cardiovascular disease in both group could have been similar if the sample coffee drinkers adopted a similar lifestyle as the tea drinkers.
Current research suggests that the cardiovascular benefits of drinking tea and coffee may be explained by antioxidants, such as flavonoids, that are believed to contribute the risk reduction. However, the underlying mechanism is not entirely not known yet. What is known is that more coffee consumption does not equate to higher risk reduction in cardiovascular disease, according to an Italian study that was published in the January 2012 issue of European Journal of Internal Medicine. Any health benefits that coffee provides with moderate intake vanishes with heavy consumption.
Cardiovascular disease — as the studies had shown — cannot always be prevented with tea or coffee alone. The popular beverages are just two pieces of a much bigger puzzle to cut back the cardiovascular disease prevalence. Now tea and coffee drinkers have more reasons to treat themselves to an extra cup every morning.
By Nick Ng