Analysis of health data from nearly 101,000 people over seven years on average found habitual tea drinkers (who sipped three or more times a week) had a 20 percent lower risk of incident heart disease and stroke, 22 percent lower risk of fatal heart disease and stroke, and 15 percent decreased risk of all-cause death, compared to never or non habitual tea drinkers (fewer than three times per week).
The results were even more compelling in the analysis of a subset of 14,081 participants with assessments at two time points. Those who maintained their tea drinking habits in both surveys had a 39 percent lower risk of incident heart disease and stroke, 56 percent lower risk of fatal heart disease and stroke, and 29 percent decreased risk of all-cause death, compared to the slack sippers.
"The protective effects of tea were most pronounced among the consistent habitual tea drinking group," Senior author Dr. Dongfeng Gu, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, said. "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 cardio protective effect."
Their findings also showed that green tea offered the biggest benefits, while no significant associations were noted with black tea. Researchers say this may be down to two factors – the production process of black tea which reduces its antioxidant effects and that many consume black tea with milk which may counteract heart health benefits.