March 18, 2021
Fill up your mug with green tea for heart health says researchers. Green tea contains a variety of helpful compounds with some really cool health benefits to your cardiovascular system. It's no surprise that researchers have found the health of people who regularly drink green tea have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. (In less geeky words, if you drink green tea it's good for your heart). Shall we pour ourselves a mug of green tea, put our feet up, and sip away at the science on green tea for heart health?
Cardiovascular disease (or, as around the dinner table we just call it heart disease), can affect the heart or the amazing highways and side streets of arteries and veins that weave through your body, helping transport oxygen and nutrients to every cell in your body. Oh, and then carry waste (like carbon dioxide) back to the lungs to be excreted, or other waste to the kidneys or gastrointestinal tract. (My kids just giggled and said, "You mean to poop and pee out, Mom?")
For many, the roadways of your cardiovascular system don't move very smoothly. According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death globally, and accounts for about one-third of deaths. Risk factors include an unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, use of alcohol, and tobacco.
Diet is the most adjustable factor of heart disease.
Many foods you love, (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, spices like ginger, nuts, fish, and mushrooms) have been noted in research studies to help prevent cardiovascular disease. Go ahead - eat more of these! And, fill your cup with water often, and a few cups of green tea per day. In a published review paper, researchers concluded that there are several studies which show green tea “…can prevent and treat cardiovascular disease as well as improve cardiometabolic health.”
A significant amount of science shows green tea promotes heart health. How does green tea help your heart? In laboratories, scientists have found that green tea contains natural compounds that can help with some major cardiovascular issues, such as high bad cholesterol, inflammation, and the health of heart cells. No need to become a science geek and use a magnifying glass to take closer look at why you should drink green tea for heart health - this geek's got the 3 ways researcher shows green tea is TEArrific for heart health:
Green tea is one of the most consumed drinks on the planet, second only to water. Green tea is famous for the amazing health-promoting catechins they contain, and have long been seen as a beneficial plant to include in your day. You are probably familiar with the most popular of the catechins, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG appears to improve how well the lining of blood vessels works. When blood vessels function at their best, the cardiovascular system flows properly, allowing all parts of your body to get the oxygen and nutrients they need. EGCG from green tea leaves encourages healthy growth and formation of blood vessel cells, all while protecting the smooth muscle cells of blood vessels from homocysteine.
High homocysteine levels can damage arteries, and increase the risk of blockages in blood vessels. For those curious about homocysteine, studies show you can lower your homocysteine levels by including folic acid (broccoli, brussels sprouts, leafy green vegetables, chickpeas, kidney beans), vitamin B6 (oats, bananas, wheat germ, soya beans, poultry, pork, peanuts), and vitamin B12 (brewer’s yeast, meat, fish, eggs) in your diet.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that can build up in the walls of arteries, a process called atherosclerosis. Plaques can build-up and restrict blood flow, cause inflammation, or even burst, triggering a blood clot. Ultimately, plaque increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Hence, it’s a good idea to lower your LDL cholesterol if it is high.
High cholesterol can refer to two things: high low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL cholesterol), and high total cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is sometimes called bad cholesterol. In a 2020 review of research, published in the Nutrition Journal, green tea consumption lowers LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol.
Researchers say, green tea appears to slow bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) from being oxidized, a process that leads to plaque formation in blood vessels, that leads to atherosclerosis. What a great reason to heart green tea – it may help prevent plaque from forming in blood vessels. Of note, studies show plaque appears to also play a role in the development of cognitive impairment that can occur with age.
High blood pressure, is called hypertension. It’s a major risk factor for heart disease. This occurs when the cardiovascular system is working harder than it should, putting extra stress on it. Several studies have found frequently drinking green tea was linked to lower blood pressure, including a group of obese hypertensive women, who saw a beneficial effect after drinking green tea for just 4 weeks. In a study, scientists attributed the addition of the healthy compounds, called epicatechins, found in green tea to the significant lowering of systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure in a randomized control study with 79 hypertensive adults (ages 20 – 55 years)
One of the biggest studies on green tea for heart health, involving over 40,000 adults in Japan. For 11 years researchers watched to see if drinking tea benefited heart health. The scientists found drinking over two cups daily of tea, reduced the risk of death by 22 – 33%, compared to non-tea drinkers. Looking at all of the research, in what scientists call a meta-analysis, it was concluded that drinking 1 to 3 cups of green tea per day was the best at reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Interestingly, in the studies, green tea leaves with higher amounts of flavonols (healthy compounds in the leaves) had greater heart-healthy benefits.
Created in paid partnership with Millennia Tea, makers of fresh tea leaves which when steeped contain 5x more antioxidants than found in a cup of steeped dried green tea. You can use the CODE: GEEKY20 if you'd like a 20% discount off your order.
Green tea catechins: defensive role in cardiovascular disease. Chin J Nat Med 2013 Jul;11(4):345-53.
Atherosclerosis and cognitive impairment are linked in the elderly. The Leiden-85 study. Atherosclerosis 2002 Dec; 165(2):353-9.
Effects and mechanisms of tea and its bioactive compounds for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases: an updated review. Antioxidants 2019; 8(6):166.
Green tea (Camellia sinensis) catechines and vascular function. Br J Nutr 2009 Dec;102(12);1790-802.
Effect of green tea consumption on blood lipids: a systemic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutrition Journal 2020 Sep;19(48).
Green tea catechins prevent low-density lipoprotein oxidation via their accumulation in low-density lipoprotein particles in humans. Nutr Res 2016 Jan; 36(1):16-23.
Dietary flavonoids added to pharmachological antihypertensive therapy are effective in improving blood pressure. Bas Clin Pharma Tox 2014 Dec;117(1):57-64.
Green tea consumption and mortality due to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all causes in Japan: the Ohsaki study. JAMA. 2006;296(10):1255–65.
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