Drinking This Popular Beverage Can Cut Your Heart Disease Risk in Half

Research found the beverage also reduces the risk of stroke and death by any cause.

You can't deny that heart disease is a formidable foe when it comes to our overall health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it claims roughly 659,000 people each year, making it responsible for one in every four deaths and taking a life every 36 seconds. And while diet, exercise, and keeping on top of your health can help to keep it at bay, research has shown there's also one beverage that can cut your risk of heart disease by more than half if you drink it regularly. Read on to see what you may want to be sipping more often.

RELATED: Drinking One Glass of This Per Day Can Slash Your Stroke Risk, Study Says.

Drinking tea can decrease your risk of fatal heart disease by 56 percent.

Cropped shot of a woman having a tea break at home

In a 2020 study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a group of researchers from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences analyzed data from 100,902 participants with no history of heart attack, cancer, or stroke taken as part of the China-PAR project2. They were then categorized as habitual tea drinkers if they consumed the beverage at least three times a week and non-habitual or never tea drinkers if they drank it less often.

After a follow-up period with a median of 7.3 years, results found that those who regularly drank tea saw a 20 percent reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, 22 percent decreased risk of fatal heart disease and stroke, and 15 percent reduced risk of death from any cause compared to the non-habitual tea drinking group.

Researchers then analyzed a subset of 14,081 participants with two surveys given at different points in time across approximately eight years. Results found that participants who maintained their tea-drinking habit throughout the study saw even more significant health benefits compared to those who weren't regular tea drinkers, including a 39 percent lower risk of incidental heart disease and stroke, 56 percent lower risk of fatal heart disease and stroke, and a 29 percent decrease in risk of death by any cause.

Researchers concluded that a sustained tea-drinking habit could significantly reduce heart disease risk.

older adult friends laughing together over tea in a restaurant

The researchers concluded that their results hinted at an association between both a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and risk of death from any cause. Data also found that regular tea drinkers usually developed heart disease or experienced a stroke 1.41 years later and lived 1.26 years longer than participants in the non-habitual tea drinking group.

"The protective effects of tea were most pronounced among the consistent habitual tea-drinking group," Dongfeng Gu, MD, a senior author of the study, said in a statement. "Mechanism studies have suggested that the main bioactive compounds in tea, namely polyphenols, are not stored in the body long-term. Thus, frequent tea intake over an extended period may be necessary for the cardioprotective effect."

RELATED: For more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Green tea may have a greater effect on providing health benefits than black tea.

A woman sitting at a counter in a cafe drinking a mug of coffee or tea

But the health benefits may not be equal for all types of tea. Results showed that drinking green tea was associated with a 25 percent lower risk of incidental heart disease or stroke, fatal heart disease or stroke, and death by any cause, while no association was found for those who drank black tea.

"In our study population, 49 percent of habitual tea drinkers consumed green tea most frequently, while only 8 percent preferred black tea," Gu said, noting that green tea is typically preferred in the East Asian population sampled for the study. "The small proportion of habitual black tea drinkers might make it more difficult to observe robust associations, but our findings hint at a differential effect between tea types."

According to the research team, there may be two reasons for this. First, while green tea is packed with polyphenols that protect against heart disease and other risk factors such as high blood pressure and dyslipidemia, the fermentation process used in the production of black tea oxidizes the compounds and can make them less effective. The authors point out that black tea is also often served with milk, which previous studies have found can cancel out the heart benefits of the beverage.

Other studies have found that regularly drinking tea can also boost your brain health.

A group of senior women sitting around a table eating and drinking tea while smiling

But it's not just your heart health that can get a boost from keeping a regular tea time. In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging in Dec. 2016, a team of researchers from the National University of Singapore set out to examine whether or not regularly consuming tea could affect the onset of dementia. To do this, the researchers gathered 957 participants from China aged 55 or older to conduct a longitudinal study.

Results found that those who drank tea every day saw their risk of developing dementia reduced by 50 percent. In the case of participants who carry the APOE e4 gene that puts them at a higher risk for developing Alzheimer's disease, daily tea drinkers saw their risk of cognitive decline drop by as much as 86 percent.

According to researchers, the results suggest that drinking tea every day could provide an affordable, easy way to combat the onset of a majorly crippling disease. "Despite high-quality drug trials, effective pharmacological therapy for neurocognitive disorders such as dementia remains elusive, and current prevention strategies are far from satisfactory," Feng Lei, the study's author and an assistant professor from the Department of Psychological Medicine at the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, said in a statement. "Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. The data from our study suggests that a simple and inexpensive lifestyle measure such as daily tea drinking can reduce a person's risk of developing neurocognitive disorders in late life."

RELATED: If You Drink Your Coffee Like This, You May Be Increasing Your Cancer Risk, Study Says.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
Filed Under