Tea and coffee support heart health: EPIC Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Coffee

Between three and six cups of tea a day may reduce the risk of death from heart disease by about 45 per cent, says a new study from The Netherlands.

And drinking coffee, may offer similar benefits, with between two and four cups of day associated with a 20 per cent reduction in risk, according to findings published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology​.

“We strengthen the evidence on the lower risk of coronary heart disease associated with coffee and tea consumption; however, neither coffee nor tea was associated with the risk of stroke or all-cause mortality,”​ wrote researchers from the University Medical Center Utrecht.

The researchers proposed that the benefits of the beverages may be due to their antioxidant content, with the flavonoids in tea, in particular, thought to contribute to reduced risk. They note, however, that the underlying mechanism is still not known.

The benefits of bean and leaf

Interest in both tea and coffee is increasing, with the number of scientific papers reporting potential benefits growing. In a recent paper in Physiology & Behavior​ (doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.01.035), Mario Ferruzzi from Purdue University stated: “Coffee and tea are two of the most commonly consumed beverages in the world and thus represent a significant opportunity to positively affect disease risk and outcomes globally.

“A better understanding of how the beverage composition impacts phenolic profiles and their bioavailability is critical to development of beverage products designed to deliver specific health benefits,”​ he added.

Study details

The new study does not deepen our understanding of the beverages’ compositions, but it does appear to strengthen the potential heart health benefits of coffee and tea.

Scientists led by Professor Yvonne van der Schouw used a questionnaire to quantify the consumption of tea and coffee in 37,514 participants of the Dutch cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).

During the 13 years of study, 1,881 cases of cardiovascular events were documented, with 563 strokes and 1,387 cases of coronary heart disease. Seventy deaths from stroke were documented and 123 from CHD, added the researchers.

After crunching the numbers, van der Schouw and her co-workers calculated that between three and six cups of tea a day may reduce the risk of death from heart disease by 45 per cent, while more than six cups was associated with a 36 per cent lower risk, compared with people who frank one cup or less per day. Black tea was the most common form of tea consumed in the Dutch cohort.

Between two and four cups of coffee a day were associated with a 20 per cent lower risk, compared to those who drank less than two or more than four cups per day, said the researchers.


"To appreciate these findings, certain limitations need to be addressed,”​ they said. “First, relatively few patients died of CHD or stroke. Therefore, we had limited power to detect associations for these end points.

“Second, we relied on self-reported data on coffee and tea consumption. Furthermore, we only had data on coffee and tea consumption from the baseline questionnaire. Participants could have changed their consumption as the result of health status,” ​they added.

The science, testing and regulation surrounding antioxidants, including bioavailability, will be discussed at the upcoming NutraIngredients Antioxidants 2010 Conference​. For more information and to register, please click here. www.ni-antioxidants.com

Source: Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.109.201939
“Tea and Coffee Consumption and Cardiovascular Morbidity and Mortality”
Authors: J.M. de Koning Gans, C.S.P.M. Uiterwaal, Y.T. van der Schouw, J.M.A. Boer, D.E. Grobbee, W.M.M. Verschuren, J.W.J. Beulens

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