Researchers at The John Hopkins Hospital in the US found that people who drank a cup of tea each day were 35 per cent less likely to have a heart attack or any other major cardiovascular event, when compared to non-tea drinkers.
Findings also showed that tea drinkers were less likely to have calcium build-up in the heart's coronary arteries. Calcium deposits have been linked to serious conditions, such as heart disease and stroke, researchers said.
"We found that moderate tea drinkers had a decreased progression of coronary artery calcium and a decreased incidence of cardiovascular events," explained researcher Dr Elliott Miller.
Researchers looked at data from more than 6,000 men and women enrolled in an ongoing study that began in 2000. At the beginning of the study all volunteers were free of heart disease. The records of the male and female participants were tracked over 11 years to see who had a heart attack, stroke, or chest pain, or had died from other types of heart disease.
Calcium deposits in the blood vessels were also measured over five years by comparing earlier Computerised Tomography scans (CT scan) to later ones.
However, researchers couldn't say if drinking more than three cups of tea a day would lead to even better heart health because very few participants drank more than four cups of tea daily.
The men and women surveyed drank either black or green tea. But the findings weren't separated by tea type.
At the moment Dr Miller is unclear on why the tea might help. Previous research has suggested that 'flavonoids' – a type of antioxidant found in tea – may be responsible and have a protective effect on the heart.
He also cautioned that it's premature to give advice about tea and heart health based on the study results.
"It's too early to say drinking tea will help you have less cardiovascular events, like heart attack and stroke. But it does suggest there could be a protective nature of tea, or that tea drinkers in general are healthier individuals," he said.
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