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Many Teas Are Good For You, But This Tea Can Save Your Life

I am a long-time tea drinker, I admit it. And a purist at that. I vacillate between black, white, and green teas. Now, an eye-opening research project I just found will definitely make my choice easier. A newly published study reveals that drinking two or more cups of black tea a day may significantly lower the risk of early death.

Okay, that’s a pretty big claim. But a study published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine followed almost a half-million middle age adults who consumed two or more cups of black tea each day. After the 11 year follow-up, they gleaned that the moderate tea drinkers demonstrated a 17% lower risk for death due to heart disease — ischemic heart disease specifically. That means a hardening of the arteries which can lead to a heart attack.

Heavy black drinkers — people who drank eight cups or more daily — saw even bigger benefits with a 26% lower risk of death due to heart disease. The two cup minimum was also linked to a modest reduction in deaths from stroke, respiratory disease and cancer-related deaths.

So, I’m sold. But also curious. What does black have that green does not?

The researchers believe it has to do with chemicals in the plant. Polyphenols and flavonoids, which can help lower inflammation. A specific type of polyphenols called catechins have an antioxidant effect inside the body, reducing stress on the cells and helping to reduce risk of disease. 

Green tea has this too. It is also a healthy tea rich in polyphenols. The difference, as I understand it, has to do with how black tea is oxidized. In a process similar to fermentation, the tea leaves are withered and exposed to oxygen, which leads to the distinctive color and taste.

Now, this study was conducted in the U.K. where there is a heavy emphasis on tea drinking, and the overwhelming preference is black tea. Both green and black teas, along with coffee, contain caffeine which carries some health concerns, especially if consumed in abundance. Also, an odd thing to me is that people who drank four to seven cups a day didn’t see an increased boost over the two-cuppers. You had to double, or triple-up to eight or more cups to get a jump in benefits.

Researchers made it clear they are not suggesting people change their habits or drastically increase black tea intake based on the morality findings. An overall heart-healthy diet is considered the best way to lower death from cardiovascular disease.

Finally, it’s worth noting: people still got a boost even if they added sugar or milk to their drink. And hot or cold it didn’t make a difference. All this tea talk is making me look forward to tea time!

What do you think?

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