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Flavonoids may be the key to the health benefits of drinking black and green tea

From the Harvard Heart Letter:

“Tea is a good source of compounds known as catechins and epicatechins, which are thought to be responsible for tea’s beneficial health effects,” says Dr. Howard Sesso, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. These compounds belong to a group of plant chemicals called flavonoids. Research suggests that flavonoids help quell inflammation, and that in turn may reduce plaque buildup inside arteries. Green tea has slightly higher amounts of these chemicals than black tea. Both black and green teas also contain modest amounts of caffeine, ranging from about 20 to 45 milligrams per 8-ounce cup. That’s roughly half the amount of caffeine in the same amount of coffee.

Short-term studies have shown that drinking tea may improve vascular reactivity—a measure of how well your blood vessels respond to physical or emotional stress. There’s also evidence that drinking either black or green tea may lower harmful LDL cholesterol levels. Blood pressure may also dip slightly in people who drink tea, but results from these studies have been mixed.

Several large, population-based studies show that people who regularly drink black or green tea may be less likely to have heart attacks and strokes. However, people who drink tea tend to be different from people who don’t drink tea. “We can’t quite disentangle whether it’s their tea drinking or something else those people are doing that lowers their risk of cardiovascular disease,” explains Dr. Sesso. “Some experts believe that tea may have cardiovascular benefits, but it’s not considered a slam-dunk proposition.”

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Anti-inflammatory diet linked to reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer

In the study of 68,273 Swedish men and women aged 45 to 83 years who were followed for 16 years, participants who most closely followed an anti-inflammatory diet had an 18% lower risk of all-cause mortality, a 20% lower risk of cardiovascular mortality, and a 13% lower risk of cancer mortality, when compared with those who followed the diet to a lesser degree. Smokers who followed the diet experienced even greater benefits when compared with smokers who did not follow the diet.

Anti-inflammatory foods consist of fruits and vegetables, tea, coffee, whole grain bread, breakfast cereal, low-fat cheese, olive oil and canola oil, nuts, chocolate, and moderate amounts of red wine and beer. Pro-inflammatory foods include unprocessed and processed red meat, organ meats, chips, and soft-drink beverages.

Read more at ScienceDaily.com

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