Published on November 20, 2022 by AliveCor India

Can regular tea drinking improve heart health?

One of the best ways to avoid health issues, particularly heart ailments is to opt for a heart healthy diet. The diet we intake can be a good step towards preventive care.

According to the Lancet Global Health in 2016, Cardiovascular Diseases or CVDs contributed to 28·1% of total deaths and 14·1% of total disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) in India compared with 15·2% and 6·9%, respectively, in 1990. With heart diseases significantly being on the rise and affecting millions in India, there has not been a better time to discuss dietary intakes that can help combat heart diseases.

And this brings us to a rather common beverage that is part of the daily routine for a majority of people in India. And that magical ingredient is tea. For every cup of coffee in the country, Indians drink as many as 30 cups of tea. An Indian adult on an average drinks 2 cups of chai or tea per day.

All of that is really good news because tea, as studies have found, is replete with ingredients that have tremendous cardiovascular benefits.

Why is tea good for the heart?

Tea is one of the herbs that comes loaded with flavonoids - the natural plant compounds that have been long known to have great heart health benefits. All types of teas contain flavonoids to some extent. But green tea is known to have a significantly greater percentage of them, and is thus known to benefit people more.

Studies have shown that habitual tea consumption was associated with healthier life years and longer life expectancy and a lesser risk of heart ailments.

Habitual tea drinking and Heart Health

A two decade long study conducted to understand tea drinking habits and its effects on things like life expectancy and heart health has shown delightful outcomes for tea lovers across the world. The study found that those people who were known to drink more than three cups of tea per week showed a 20 percent lower risk of cardiovascular incidents.

It was also found that these habitual tea drinkers also had a 22 percent reduced risk for cardiovascular death and an overall 15 percent reduced risk for premature death. Overall, the study showed how certain compounds in tea can significantly offset heart disease risk factors.

Say goodbye to inflammation

Pioneering physician and scientist, Dr.William W. Li states that one of the reasons why tea can help beat oxidative stress - a major cause of inflammation - is because of flavonoids and polyphenols, the wonder compounds found in tea. Because these compounds help in reducing oxidative stress and consequently chronic inflammation, drinking tea immensely helps in increasing blood vessel efficiency. The overall anti-inflammatory effects help avoid plaque buildup within arteries, that in turn leads to a better overall heart health.

Good cholesterol and bad cholesterol

The effects of tea drinking on managing good cholesterol and bad cholesterol have been widely documented. Good cholesterol or HDL tends to decrease in body as people age. Studies published in the Journal of the American Heart Association document how habitual tea drinking among people helps slow the decrease in HDL that occurs in people as the body ages.

On the other hand, the effect of tea drinking on the body’s level of bad cholesterol is equally encouraging. One of the studies found that the catechin extract, an antioxidant found in tea, particularly green tea, significantly lowered total cholesterol by 11.3 percent, LDL cholesterol by 16.4 percent, triglycerides by 3.5 percent, and raised HDL by 2.3 percent.

Overall, habitual consumption of tea is a great way to effectively manage your body’s cholesterol levels.

Tea helps maintain gut microbiome

For centuries people have turned to drinking tea to aid in digestion and improve overall digestive health. A healthy digestive system is key to good health, while prolonged out of sorts digestion may lead to chronic health conditions like diabetes and arthritis. This not only affects the quality of life for aging populace but also indirectly leads to heart ailments and cardiovascular problems among people.

Drinking tea has been linked to maintaining a healthy gut biome. Flavonoids and polyphenols found in varying quantities in different types of tea have been found to lead to an increase in the growth of good bacteria. Same compounds have also been found to reduce the count of harmful bacteria in the intestines. Maintaining the gut microbiome not only aids digestion but also boosts body’s immunity and helps fight chronic inflammation in the digestive system.

A healthy gut thus is an intrinsic part of improving overall heart health and reducing the incidence of cardiovascular diseases.

A cup a day keeps heart conditions away

As people age, clinic visits with ecg checkups become more and more frequent. Perhaps, the best way to deal with heart ailments is preventive care. And the best way to go about preventive care is to make appropriate dietary changes, particularly when it is something as easy and accessible as drinking tea.

It is encouraging to know that India is already home to one of the largest tea drinking populations in the world. Tea is widely and easily available. All that we need is the awareness around how tea drinking can help combat cardiovascular issues and lead to better heart health.

So, next time you are out with your friends, just swap out the sugary cola and alcoholic beverages and instead ask for a soothing cup of tea or “chai”-as we Indians like to call it.

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