Drinking 2 cups of tea a day may lower your risk of early death - study

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Drinking two or more cups of tea a day may stave off serious health issues.
Drinking two or more cups of tea a day may stave off serious health issues.
Granger Wootz
  • A new study suggests that drinking two cups of tea a day may help stave off certain health issues.
  • Many past studies have shown that tea contains plant pigments that contribute to better health.
  • In the current study, people who drank tea had a lower risk of early death compared to non-tea drinkers.

Tea lovers rejoice: new research suggests drinking two cups a day may be linked to a lower risk of early death.

When comparing people who didn’t have tea, those who drank two or more cups a day had between 9% and 13% lower mortality risk from all leading causes of death.

And if you can’t stand to have your brew without milk or sugar, the good news still applies: according to the researchers, the result was the same irrespective of whether the person added milk or sugar to their tea.

READ MORE | What's wrong with microwaved tea? Science weighs in

Reporting their findings in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the researchers write:

“During a median follow-up of 11.2 years, higher tea intake was modestly associated with lower all-cause mortality risk among those who drank two or more cups per day … These findings suggest that tea, even at higher levels of intake, can be part of a healthy diet.”

The study

For the study, the team from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) used data from the UK Biobank, a genetic and medical data resource.

All participants underwent physical exams when they enrolled in the study from 2006 to 2010. They also provided blood, urine and saliva samples. Moreover, they were asked to complete a questionnaire about their tea drinking habits during this period. 

The researchers followed up with them for more than a decade and noted data about the participants’ lifestyle, diet, health, ethnicity and their socioeconomic status. 

READ MORE | The latest science on why your daily cups of tea and coffee may be good for your health

Their research showed that out of 500 000 participants (aged 40 to 69), 85% reported drinking tea regularly, while 89% reported drinking black tea. The majority of those who drank tea had between two and five cups per day.

Interestingly, those who were heavy tea drinkers in the study were more likely to be smokers, have poorer general health and eat more red and processed meat - all factors that may increase a person’s risk of disease and death.

Based on the results, participants who drank two or more cups of tea daily had a lower death risk from cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease and stroke. Unfortunately, no link was found between tea consumption and cancer.

What are the protective properties in tea?

Apart from water, tea is the most widely consumed drink worldwide, according to the United Nations.

As one of the world's favourite hot beverages, this has made scientists naturally curious about the impact of its consumption on our health. Apart from the current study, several past studies have shown the many benefits of drinking tea.

In 2020, combined data from 39 observational studies found that drinking tea may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. The research involved more than 1.8 million men and women who drank black or green tea. 

Another 2021 study, which was the largest of its kind and also based on data from the UK Biobank, found that drinking coffee or tea was associated with a lower risk of stroke and dementia.

So what’s in tea that gives us a range of health benefits?

Well, tea is high in plant compounds called polyphenols. Polyphenols are also antioxidants - molecules that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage. Green tea is thought to contain more polyphenols than black tea.

Numerous studies suggest that a diet high in polyphenols may offer important health benefits like boosting cardiovascular health and reducing a person’s risk of chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

READ MORE | Antioxidants: everything you need to know

Apart from tea, there are certain foods containing polyphenols, according to Healthline. These include cocoa powder and dark chocolate, berries (strawberries, blackberries and raspberries), apples, plums and beans.


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