Is Black Tea Better for Your Heart?
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
This January, the papers reported on a piece of research that suggested adding milk to black tea wipes out all the heart health benefits.
The study, published on an online version of the European Heart Journal, included 16 female volunteers, who consumed 500ml of freshly brewed black tea, tea with skimmed milk or boiled water. The scientists then measured blood flow in the arteries.
The scientists discovered that black tea increased the ability of the arteries to relax and expand to accommodate increased blood flow. However, the addition of milk appeared to prevent this effect. The researchers suggest that regular tea drinkers should go without milk occasionally to reap the health benefits.
This is a really small study and a lot more research needs to be carried out before any firm conclusions can be drawn.
Many studies have shown that tea helps to protect against heart disease thanks to it containing a group of flavonoids called catechins. These act as powerful antioxidants and so help to prevent damage from free radicals.
The question of whether the addition of milk to tea affects these heart-healthy benefits often hits the headlines, with some studies, such as this one, suggesting that milk wipes out the health benefits, and others showing that it has no effect.
It’s worth remembering that milk itself contains health-promoting nutrients, especially calcium, and for many people, drinking tea is one of the few ways in which they consume milk.
Perhaps the most sensible advice comes from June Davison, Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation. She says, “Leaving milk out of your tea is far less likely to help protect your heart health than other measures such as taking regular exercise, avoiding smoking and eating a healthy, balanced diet.”
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www.bhf.org.uk For more than 40 years, the British Heart Foundation has been at the forefront of the fight against heart disease, funding research, education, care and more.
www.heartuk.org.uk A charity providing some information for patients about coronary heart disease. Emphasis on cholesterol and lipids.