Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world after water. Habitual tea consumption has long been associated in China with reduced blood pressure and has also been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels and protect the body against certain kinds of cancer. Containing over 4000 chemical compounds, there’s still a lot about tea that remains a mystery, but studies have proven its effectiveness in protecting heart health.
One comprehensive study following more than 1500 people found that despite regular tea drinkers being more obese than non-drinkers and “smoked more, consumed more alcohol, ate fewer vegetables, and had more frequent high sodium intake,” they still had lower blood pressure levels than non-tea drinkers. Those who drank the largest amounts of tea (over 20 ounces daily) and for the longest duration (for 10 years or more) had the lowest blood pressure of any group. The majority of the participants were drinking green
or oolong tea without adding milk.
The study authors were unable to pinpoint what exactly about tea lowers blood pressure, but offered several possibilities:
-caffeine, which lowers blood pressure for short intervals only,
-theanine, a component in green tea and a neurotransmitter in the brain that has been shown to reduce blood pressure in rats,
-polyphenols, antioxidants that help reduce effects of free radicals and prevent the growth of certain cancers,
-green tea extracts that relax smooth muscles, and
-other undetermined compounds.
Yang YC, Lu FH, Wu JS, et al. The protective effect of habitual tea consumption on hypertension. Archives of Internal Medicine July 26, 2004;164:1534-1540.
Study: Daily Tea Consumption Reduces Risk of Hypertension. Acupuncture Today, Oct. 2004,V5.I10. http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=29020.