Drinking Tea Really Does Boost Your Heart Health, New Study Confirms
A few cups a day could lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Whether you're squeezing in an early-morning workout or swapping out fries for a salad, making heart-healthy choices can often feel like a sacrifice. The good news? According to a new study, there's one cardio-friendly choice you can make that only enhances your daily routine.
Researchers found that drinking black or green tea every day helps reduce a key cardiovascular risk factor that's associated with heart attack and stroke. Read on to learn more about why these types of tea boast major cardiovascular benefits, and which other foods may also help improve your heart health.
Foods that contain flavonoids promote heart health.
Flavonoids are compounds found abundantly in plants that are rich in antioxidants. Research has shown that flavonoids are useful to the body in helping fight inflammation and oxidative stress, and may help protect against certain chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and certain types of cancer.
A Nov. 2022 study by a team at Edith Cowan University (ECU) has confirmed another key benefit to add to that list: it concluded that flavonoids are beneficial when it comes to heart health. The team behind the study gathered 881 elderly women with a median age of 80 to assess the benefits of regular flavonoid consumption, and found that those who regularly consumed certain foods with flavonoids were less likely to experience an accumulation of abdominal aortic calcification (AAC)—an important risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
Green and black teas offer a high dose of flavonoids.
The study explained that drinking one particular flavonoid-rich beverage every day helps promote heart health. The team found that regularly consuming green or black tea successfully helped lower the subjects' risk of AAC, and that black tea was the group's main source of food-based flavonoids.
When the researchers compared those who drank two to six cups of tea daily to those who had none, the tea-drinkers experienced a 16 to 42 percent reduction of extensive AAC. However, though the heart health benefits grew with the amount they consumed, it's important to note that green and black tea is most often caffeinated, and can come with its own set of side effects when consumed in excess.
You can load up on flavonoids by eating these other foods, too.
If tea isn't part of your preferred daily diet—or if you're looking for a caffeine-free way to enjoy the benefits of flavonoids—experts say several other foods are rich in the heart healthy compound.
"Good sources of flavonoids include berries, red and purple grapes, cocoa and dark chocolate, green and black tea, cinnamon, kale, parsley, and soybeans," Lindsay Delk, RD, RDN, the Food and Mood Dietician, tells Best Life. "In order to reap the rewards of flavonoids, try to consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, along with drinking one or two cups of tea daily," she advises.
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Certain flavonoid sources are less beneficial, experts say.
The study also looked at other food sources of flavonoids, and found that they are not all created equally when it comes to heart health benefits. Fruit juice, red wine, and chocolate—often touted as being flavonoid-dense—did not appear to lower one's risk of abdominal aortic calcification, according to the ECU study.
Delk also cautions against making supplements your primary source of flavonoids, explaining that you should always aim to "meet your nutritional needs from food whenever possible. When you focus on getting your nutrients from food instead of supplements, you are able to obtain the necessary nutrients in the right amounts but enjoy a wide variety of health benefits that come from eating a balanced and varied diet," she tells Best Life. "Some research has suggested that flavonoid supplements might also be beneficial, but there is not enough evidence yet to make any firm conclusions."
Speak with your doctor or nutritionist to learn more about how to boost your heart health through your daily diet.