Studies show caffeinated black tea can decrease the risk of heart attack

People's Pharmacy

May 26, 2002|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,Special to the Sun; King Features Syndicate

Q. There was something on the news about how tea drinkers are less likely to have heart attacks. Does it matter if it is regular or decaffeinated tea? What about hot tea compared with iced tea? And is herb or green tea as good as black tea in this regard?

A. Harvard researchers report in the current edition of the journal Circulation that tea seems to have heart-healthy properties. Almost 2,000 heart-attack patients were questioned about their tea-drinking habits and were followed for roughly four years. Heavy tea drinkers (14 cups or more each week) were 44 percent less likely to die of another heart attack compared with non-tea drinkers. Moderate tea drinkers (fewer than 14 cups weekly) were 28 percent less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack.

The scientists only studied people's consumption of caffeinated black tea. Hot or iced shouldn't make a difference. Green tea might provide equal benefits, but that was not the focus of the study.

The researchers hypothesize that the effects are due to the antioxidant flavonoids in tea. These compounds improve the function of arterial linings and prevent bad LDL cholesterol from oxidizing. Flavonoids also keep blood platelets from sticking together to form blood clots, which could be another way they help prevent heart attacks.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them via their Web site, www. peoplespharmacy.org.

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