If you want an easy goal for 2021 that could dramatically improve your health, here is one:
Drink more green tea.
Two separate 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.
Antioxidants are key nutrients that protect the body from free radicals, molecules that damage cells by altering DNA. Left unprotected, this cellular-level attack can lead to any number of diseases including cancer, atherosclerosis/heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, asthma, and more.
One of the most popular allies against free-radical damage are flavonoids—one huge group of antioxidant compounds. These supernutrients break down into several subclasses, one of which is flavanols.
Most found in sources like cocoa, grapes, apples, berries, red wine, and tea (especially green tea), flavanols provide incredible benefits for your health—and the science from these 2020 studies back them up.
Flavanols & Blood Pressure
The first study looked at the diets of 25,618 people in the UK and how these foods and beverages affected their blood pressure. And, rather than relying on the participants to self-report what they ate, the researchers used biomarkers in the blood to analyze flavanol intake and metabolism. That way, the study remained as objective and accurate as possible.
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, this is comparable to the positive changes in blood pressure experienced by those following a Mediterranean diet or a reduced salt program, such as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) meal plan.
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.”
Green Tea & 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. Coffee—a perennial favorite in the US—also appears to have this benefit.
This too is promising news, as people with diabetes are at a higher risk of succumbing to a host of serious and often fatal complications including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and dementia.
In this five-year study, researchers examined the effects of green tea and coffee (consumed 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:
- One cup of green tea daily was associated with a 15% lower risk of death;
- Two to three cups daily were associated with a 27% reduced risk of death; and
- Four or more cups per day were associated with a 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 also found that the people who drank both coffee and green tea every day experienced a:
- 51% reduction in risk of death with two to three cups of green tea and two or more cups of coffee;
- 58% decrease with four or more cups of green tea and 1 cup of coffee; and
- 63% decrease with four 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, the benefits multiply.
And, if you’re ready to put all those benefits into your cup, here’s the best way to do it.
How to Get More Benefits from Your Tea
If you are ready to pack a serious—and potentially lifesaving—antioxidant punch to your health, drinking more tea might be right for you.
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.
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.
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 or monkfruit sweetener rather than sugar, aspartame, or sucralose. If you do not like stevia, a teaspoon or two of honey should do the trick. For maximum antioxidant benefit, try to drink 3–4 cups per day.
Add tea time for better health
We Americans love our coffee. And, chances are, you are a coffee drinker, too. (If not, we cannot convince you to love it—you either do, or you don’t.)
But perhaps we can convince you to try adding more green tea to your diet—especially if you have hypertension, diabetes, or both conditions. It just might be the one change you resolve to make this year that leads to improved health for a lifetime.
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: January 23, 2021
Originally Published: January 23, 2021