Heart disease is an issue that affects people worldwide. People are constantly looking for ways to lower their risk of disease, including exercising and eating better. A recent study published in Preventive Medicine shows one simple action – drinking a cup of black tea – can reduce several risk factors for heart disease and lower the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Lowering blood sugar and triglyceride levels
The Preventive Medicine study showed that drinking black tea regularly for 12 weeks greatly reduced blood sugar levels and triglycerides, or unhealthy fats, in the bloodstream. Both are significant risk factors for heart disease. Triglycerides fell by a full 39 percent in men and 29 percent in women, which is a drastic difference. Black tea consumption also led to an increase in HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol that appears to promote overall cardiovascular health.
Benefits of antioxidants
Black tea is packed with antioxidants, long known to be a food-based heart health booster. Black tea, as well as green tea, is loaded with polyphenols, a specific type of antioxidant associated with several health benefits, including an increase in cardiovascular health. While there are many ways antioxidants help the body, they have the most impact on free radicals. Antioxidants protect the tissue and blood vessels against free radicals, which can cause stress and inflammation. This protection, in turn, lowers the risk of heart disease.
Reducing C-reactive protein
An earlier study on tea showed yet another way it could impact heart health. Tea drinkers, no matter what type of tea they drink, who are moderate to high-risk for heart disease, have significantly reduced C-reactive protein (CRP) levels than those who do not drink tea. CRP is considered a marker for cardiovascular disease and inflammation. This particular study, however, should be viewed with caution because health experts are divided on how much of an indicator it is. The American Heart Association says CRP levels are a great indicator of cardiovascular risk. According to Russell Tracy, PhD, professor of pathology and biochemistry at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, CRP “is only one of thousands of blood proteins involved in heart disease.”
Drink it black
Black tea is best enjoyed plain. The cardiovascular benefits of drinking tea shows health benefits are highest when you consume the drink without added milk or sugar. This is particularly true of milk, which may reduce the availability of some of the rich antioxidants in the tea. Consider sweetening the brew with natural honey or agave nectar if the taste is too strong on its own.
Exercising regularly and eating well are good lifestyle choices for everyone, especially those people with a family history of heart disease. As you make small changes to your daily routine, whether you start a walking regimen or vow to eat more green vegetables, consider adding black tea to your daily routine. You have nothing to lose by drinking this healthy beverage. The switch to black tea might just make it easier to implement other healthy changes in your life.