Green tea is increasingly becoming associated with its health promoting properties, but what can it do it to combat heart disease and strok? Let’s look over some of the research being done into the antioxidants and other things found in tea and their use in combating various types of heart disease.
In the United States, Heart disease is the leading cause of death. According to the American Heart Association Statistics Committee, roughly 785,000 Americans had their first coronary attack last year in 2010, and something in the neighborhood of 470,000 had a recurrent attack; nearly one heart attack in the U.S.A. every 25 seconds, and one death every minute.
Scary stuff. So what can tea, be it green, black, white or oolong, do to help? Quite a bit actually
· Cholesterol- Tea has been found to have a number of effects on cholesterol levels in the body. Green tea and white tea, having the most of the catechin EGCG (epi gallo catechin gallate), have been shown to be the most effective. Japanese research indicates that green tea reduces the levels of bad LDL in the blood stream and can actually reduce the risk of heart disease by 36%. Early research shows that the polyphenols in green and white tea can block the intestinal absorption of cholesterol and excrete it from the body. Some animal studies indicate that it might also promote the development of good HDL cholesterol.
· Green tea has also been found to reduce the activity of platelets, which are the agents of the blood that facilitate clotting. This is significant in preventing and managing heart disease and various forms of stroke, as blood that isn’t too thick or “sticky” is less likely to clot up and block an artery
· Anti inflammatory- The anti-inflammatory properties of EGCG can be of huge benefit to any healthy dietary regimen, especially as arterial inflammation is thought to play a key role in the development of heart disease.
· EGCG has been found to inhibit lipid peroxidation, a process of oxidation that is involved with several pathologic conditions, most notably atherosclerosis (or hardening of the arteries). Yay antioxidants.
· EGCG has also been found to help people post cardiac attack and prevent the development of a cardiac arrhythmia. It has been found to inhibit the HERG potassium channels, which play a role in cardiac repolarization and are indicated in the cardiac electrical disorder Long QT syndrome (which causes arrhythmias) and extra cardiac tumors.
This is actually only a small part of the massive body of data that is beginning to pile up on the subject of tea and maintaining a healthy heart and circulatory system, but it is certainly enough to make you ask the question “What could it hurt to drink a little tea from time to time?” If you are healthy now, the answer is nothing. But if you are already on medications for heart disease, you should talk to your doctor as some medications are affected by heavy tea intake. Good luck in finding a diet that works for you, with or without tea, and live well!