How Drinking Black Tea Can Improve Your Long-Term Health

Black tea is a type of tea that is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. It is the most consumed tea in the world and is known for its bold flavor and dark colour.

The flavonoids found in black tea have been linked to improved cardiovascular health later in life. Drinking a cup of black tea daily can provide these benefits, but if you’re not a tea drinker, there are other dietary options that contain flavonoids.

Drinking a cup of tea a day could have potential health benefits as you age, but even if you’re not a tea drinker, you can still reap the benefits of flavonoids through other dietary options. Flavonoids are naturally occurring substances found in many common foods and beverages such as black and green tea, apples, nuts, citrus fruits, berries, and more.

Flavonoids have long been recognized for their health benefits, but new research from Edith Cowan University (ECU) suggests they may be even more beneficial than previously believed. The Heart Foundation supported a study of 881 older women (average age of 80) that found that those who consumed a high level of flavonoids in their diet were less likely to have extensive accumulation of abdominal aortic calcification (AAC) .

AAC is calcification of the abdominal aorta — the largest artery in the body that supplies oxygenated blood from the heart to the abdominal organs and lower extremities — and is a predictor of cardiovascular risks such as heart attack and stroke. It has also been found to be a reliable predictor of dementia in later life.

ECU Nutrition and Health Innovation Research Institute researcher and study lead, Ben Parmenter, said that while there were many dietary sources of flavonoids, some had particularly high amounts.

“In most populations, a small group of foods and beverages, extraordinarily high in flavonoids, contribute the majority of total dietary flavonoid intake,” she said. “The main contributors are usually black or green tea, blueberries, strawberries, oranges, red wine, apples, raisins/grapes, and dark chocolate.”

The flavonoid family

There are many different types of flavonoids, such as flavan-3-ols and flavonols, which according to the study also appear to have a relationship with AAC. Study participants who had higher intakes of total flavonoids, flavan-3-ols and flavonols were 36-39% less likely to have extensive CAA.

Black tea was the study cohort’s major source of total flavonoids and was also associated with significantly lower odds of extensive AAC. Compared with respondents who didn’t drink tea, participants who drank two to six cups a day were 16 to 42 percent less likely to have extensive CAA.

However, some other food sources of flavonoids, such as fruit juices, red wine, and chocolate, have not shown a significant beneficial association with CAA.

Not just you

Although black tea was the main source of flavonoids in the study, likely due to the participants’ ages, Mr. Parmenter said people could still benefit from the flavonoids without turning on the kettle.

“Among women who don’t drink black tea, total intake of non-tea flavonoids also appears to protect against extensive artery calcification,” she said. “This implies that flavonoids from sources other than black tea may be protective against AAC when the tea is not consumed.”

Mr Parmenter said this is important as it allows non-tea drinkers to still benefit from the flavonoids in their diet.

“In other populations or groups of people, such as young men or people from other countries, black tea may not be the main source of flavonoids,” she said. “CAA is an important predictor of vascular disease events, and this study shows that intake of flavonoids, which may protect against CAA, is easily obtainable in most people’s diets.”

Reference: “Habitual Higher Dietary Flavonoid Intakes Are Associated with Less Extensive Abdominal Aortic Calcification in a Cohort of Older Women” by Benjamin H. Parmenter, Catherine P. Bondonno, Kevin Murray, John T. Schousboe, Kevin Croft, Richard L. Prince, Jonathan M. Hodgson, Nicola P. Bondonno, and Joshua R. Lewis, November 3, 2022, Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis and vascular biology.
DOI: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.122.318408

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