Coffee or tea? Why your heart wants you to drink both
Americans love coffee, and chances are, you are a coffee drinker, too.
But perhaps we can convince you to try adding more green tea to your diet—especially if you have hypertension, diabetes, or both conditions and want to dramatically improve your health this year.
Two recent studies published in October 2020 show that green tea drinkers not only experience significant improvements in blood pressure, but also have a lower risk of death if they have diabetes, thanks to green tea’s rich antioxidant content.
That is exciting news for your health—especially since you will not have to give up your cup of joe to get maximum benefits.
Flavanols: Your Friend in the Fight Against High Blood Pressure
Antioxidants are your body’s strongest ally in the fight against free radicals, the molecules that damage cells by altering DNA, which can lead to any number of diseases—including cancer, atherosclerosis/heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, asthma, and more.
Scientists are discovering that flavanols, a subclass of one large group of antioxidant compounds called flavonoids may be a strong indicator of heart health.
One recent study conducted in the UK gave as objective and accurate an analysis of flavanols as you can get. In it, researchers examined the diets of 25,618 people and how these foods and beverages affected their blood pressure.
Instead of relying on the participants to self-report what they ate, researchers used biomarkers in the blood to analyze flavanol intake and metabolism. The results showed that those with the highest flavanol intake had the greatest reduction in blood pressure, between 2-4 mmHg.
According to the researchers, the reduction in blood pressure is comparable to the positive changes in blood pressure experienced by those who follow a Mediterranean diet or a reduced salt program, such as Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH).
Further analysis showed that already-hypertensive participants had a greater response and saw more improvement compared to those with normal blood pressure. The researchers wrote that “flavanol intake could therefore have a role in the maintenance of cardiovascular health on a population scale.”
And what are the most common sources of flavanols?
Cocoa, grapes, apples, berries, red wine, and tea—especially green tea.
The Power of Coffee + Green Tea in Improving Your Longevity
Along with its cardiovascular benefits, green tea has been linked to lower risk of dying from any cause among people with type 2 diabetes. This is promising news, as people with diabetes are prone to a host of serious and often fatal complications including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and dementia.
(Note to coffee drinkers: your cup of joe also appears to have this benefit—but green tea may still have an edge.)
In another five-year study, researchers examined the effects of green tea and coffee (separately and together) on the risk of death among 4,923 patients with diabetes.
Unlike the first study that relied on biomarkers, this one involved having the participants fill out food and drink questionnaires. They also provided other pertinent information on lifestyle and other health habits (smoking, sleep, exercise, etc.)
The results showed that compared to not drinking green tea at all:
- 1 cup daily was associated with 15% lower risk of death
- 2-3 cups daily were associated with 27% reduced risk of death
- 4 or more cups per day were associated with 40% decreased risk of death
Similarly, compared to non-coffee drinkers, coffee drinkers who enjoyed:
- One cup daily had 12% lower odds of death
- Two or more cups every day had 41% lower risk of death
The researchers found that the people who drank both coffee and green tea every day experienced:
- 51% reduction in risk of death with 2-3 cups of green tea and 2 or more cups of coffee
- 58% decrease with 4 or more cups of green tea and 1 cup of coffee
- 63% decrease with 4 or more cups of green tea and 2 or more cups of coffee
As you can see, individually, green tea and coffee have some powerful effects. But together, those benefits can multiply.
Your Guide to the Perfect Cup of Tea
As you can see, if you have hypertension, diabetes, or both, adding more green tea to your diet may dramatically support your efforts to overcome them.
And knowing how to make your tea is especially important if you want to stick to it for the long run.
To brew a delicious cup of green tea, heat water to about 175°F, and steep the tea bag for about three minutes. For loose tea, use 1–2 teaspoons for every 8 ounces of water and steep for 1–2 minutes. You can also brew a pitcher and enjoy it over ice throughout the day.
If the taste of green tea is not for you, white tea is another great option as well. Both varieties pack a serious—and potentially lifesaving—antioxidant punch.
Green, as well as white, black and oolong teas, are all derived from Camellia sinensis, a plant native to India and China. The main difference between all the varieties is how the leaves are processed. The less processing, the higher the antioxidant value. Green and white undergo the least amount of processing, making them the richest sources of antioxidant flavanols.
Both green and white tea have a mild taste that most people find enjoyable, but if you feel the need to sweeten it, be sure to use stevia rather than sugar, aspartame, or sucralose. If stevia is not your cup of tea (pun intended), a teaspoon or two of honey should do the trick. For maximum antioxidant benefit, try to drink 3–4 cups per day.
You heart and your loved ones will thank you for it.
Green Tea Packs a Lifesaving, Antioxidant Punch
Coffee aficionados may scoff at the thought of the turning to a slow steep instead of a slow drip, but the heart health benefits gained from adding tea is one simple change worth pouring into your cup.
While both coffee and tea share similar benefits on their own, when they combine powers, they become a free radical-fighting force like no other.
If you want to improve your heart health and extend the number of days you get to enjoy a warm cup of joe each morning, now is as good a time as ever to add green tea’s flavanol benefits to your corner.
Take good care.
- Ottaviani J, et al. Biomarker-estimated flavan-3-ol intake is associated with lower blood pressure in cross-sectional analysis in EPIC Norfolk. Sci Rep. 2020 Oct 21;10(1):17964.
- Komorita Y, et al. Additive effects of green tea and coffee on all-cause mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: the Fukuoka Diabetes Registry. BMJ Open Diabetes Res Care. 2020 Oct;8(1):e001252.
Disclaimer: Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Last Updated: February 27, 2021
Originally Published: February 27, 2021