Go Green with Your Tea
Eastern cultures have long since associated tea with a healthy diet, but is there any backing or prove that green tea is actually good for you? A new study shows that green tea keeps arteries relaxed and flexible, which lowers risk for heart failures and other heart related diseases. So next time if you're at Starbucks, you might want to consider an iced green tea over your regular choice of a caramel macchiato.
A new study shows that the beverage, which is more popular in Eastern cultures, can protect heart arteries by keeping them flexible and relaxed, and therefore better able to withstand the ups and downs of constant changes in blood pressure. Led by Dr. Nikolaos Alexopoulos of Athens Medical School in Greece, the researchers found that among 14 subjects, those who drank green tea showed greater dilation of their heart arteries on ultrasound 30 min. later than those drinking either diluted caffeine or hot water. That's because, the scientists speculate, green tea works on the lining of blood vessels, helping cells there to secrete the substances needed to relax the vessels and allow blood to flow more freely. It's the flavonoids in the tea, which work as antioxidants and help prevent inflammation in body tissue, that keep the vessels pliable. These substances may also protect against the formation of clots, which are the primary cause of heart attacks. "We found very promptly [that] after drinking green tea, there was a protective effect on the endothelium," says Dr. Charalambos Vlachopoulos, a cardiologist and one of the authors of the study.
Apparently six grams of green tea can do the trick.
All it took, says Vlachopoulos, was 6 g of green tea, which amounts to 3 to 4 cups. To make sure the dilation effect was not due to the small amounts of caffeine found in green tea, the group compared the arterial sizes in the green-tea drinkers with those consuming a diluted caffeine beverage and found no change in arterial size in the caffeine drinkers. Even more intriguing, the beneficial effect seems to be long-lasting and cumulative. When the doctors measured the green-tea drinkers' arteries two weeks after daily consumption of the beverage, they found that their vessels were more dilated than they had been at the beginning of the study. "It's something that needs to be investigated, but we think that if someone takes green tea for one or two months, the beneficial effect will be even greater," says Vlachopoulos.
Green tea may have beneficial effects, but it doens't mean that everyone should be drinking green tea all the time, nor does it mean that it is a recommendation by the researchers.
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Olathe, Kansas, United States