By Michael A. Smith, MDgreen tea is well-deserved and completely understandable given the numerous health benefits it offers. Not a day goes by without some new clinical research demonstrating its benefits and solidifying its top position in the supplement industry. But emerging cardiovascular research is about to turn green tea black.
This is no surprise to tea enthusiasts. They have long known that all teas are loaded with antioxidants, the age-fighting nutrients all over mainstream media today. So it’s not unexpected that black tea is starting to form its own reputation within the industry as a disease-fighter.
Black Tea Improves Heart HealthA study recently published in Preventive Medicine showed that nine grams a day of black tea antioxidants was associated with a 36% drop in triglycerides and a significant 17% decrease in the ratio of bad LDL cholesterol to good HDL cholesterol — an important marker of heart health.1
The research was conducted on 87 subjects, between the ages of 25 and 60. They either consumed three cups of black tea a day or the same volume of hot water for 12 weeks. Simply put: The results are impressive.
The researchers concluded, “High levels of polyphenolics [antioxidants] in the tea can protect cells and tissues from oxidative damage by scavenging oxygen-free radicals. Tea phenolics may therefore be active antioxidants in the digestive tract and other tissues after uptake.”
Black Tea is Leading a New Field of StudyMuch of the misery of age-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic pain and even cancer can be laid at the feet of inflammatory processes that presumably evolved for the protection of our health.
A lifetime of inflammation saturates your body in molecules known as cytokines, which are signaling proteins used by immune cells to communicate and coordinate attacks on potential threats.
The problem is as we get older, we have a harder and harder time inhibiting the production of cytokines and shutting down the inflammatory reaction. The result is damage to our heart cells by a normal process gone wild.
Theaflavins, specific antioxidants found in black tea, can reach into your genes and turn off the production of cytokines at the genetic level.2 With less inflammation, you’re heart has a better chance of pumping blood well into “older” age.
By the way, this type of mechanism of action, where a nutrient positively affects your genes, is a new field of study called nutrigenomics. And black tea theaflavins are leading the way!
And the Verdict Is...Numerous studies have supported both black tea and green tea as heart-healthy drinks. But the fact that new research shows black tea positively affecting the bad cholesterol to good cholesterol ratio by 17%, just may give it the edge in a head-to-head comparison on heart health.
Which tea do you prefer in terms of taste and potential health benefits? Share your pick in the comments below!
- Preventive Medicine, Volume 54, 1 May 2012 pages S98-S102, doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2011.12.009
- Crit Care Med. 2004 Oct;32(10):2097-103.
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