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Coffee or tea: Enjoy both in moderation for heart benefits

American Heart Association rapid access journal report

American Heart Association

This release is available in Chinese.

Coffee and tea drinkers may not need to worry about indulging - high and moderate consumption of tea and moderate coffee consumption are linked with reduced heart disease, according to a study published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers in The Netherlands found:

  • Drinking more than six cups of tea per day was associated with a 36 percent lower risk of heart disease compared to those who drank less than one cup of tea per day.
  • Drinking three to six cups of tea per day was associated with a 45 percent reduced risk of death from heart disease, compared to consumption of less than one cup per day.

And for coffee they found:

  • Coffee drinkers with a modest intake, two to four cups per day, had a 20 percent lower risk of heart disease compared to those drinking less than two cups or more than four cups.
  • Although not considered significant, moderate coffee consumption slightly reduced the risk of heart disease death and deaths from all causes.

Researchers also found that neither coffee nor tea consumption affected stroke risk.

"While previous studies have shown that coffee and tea seem to reduce the risk of heart disease, evidence on stroke risk and the risk of death from heart disease was not conclusive," said Yvonne T. van der Schouw, Ph.D., study senior author and professor of chronic disease epidemiology, Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands. "Our results found the benefits of drinking coffee and tea occur without increasing risk of stroke or death from all causes.

Van der Schouw and colleagues used a questionnaire to evaluate coffee and tea consumption among 37,514 participants. They followed the participants for 13 years for occurrences of cardiovascular disease and death.

Study limitations included self-reported tea and coffee consumption, and the lack of specific information on the type of tea participants drank. However, black tea accounts for 78 percent of the total tea consumed in The Netherlands and green tea accounts for 4.6 percent. Coffee and tea drinkers have very different health behaviors, researchers note. Many coffee drinkers tend to also smoke and have a less healthy diet compared to tea drinkers.

Researchers suggest that the cardiovascular benefit of drinking tea may be explained by antioxidants. Flavonoids in tea are thought to contribute to reduced risk, but the underlying mechanism is still not known.

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Co-authors are: J. Margot de Koning Gans, M.D.; Cuno S.P.M. Uiterwaal, M.D., Ph.D.; Joline W.J. Beulens, Ph.D.; Jolanda M.A. Boer, Ph.D.; Diederick E. Grobbee, M.D., Ph.D.; and W.M. Monique Verschuren, Ph.D. Author disclosures and funding sources are in the study.

Statements and conclusions of study authors published in American Heart Association scientific journals are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the association's policy or position. The association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at www.americanheart.org/corporatefunding.

Contact information: Dr. van der Schouw can be reached at (011) 3188-7557483 (Press and Media department UMC Utrecht) and y.t.vanderschouw@umcutrecht.nl. (Please do not publish contact information.)

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