Green Tea Lowers The Risk of Heart Disease

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In the recent years, consuming green tea has become fairly common in India. The benefits associated with it are many, and now these extend to the prevention of heart disease.

Let’s take a closer look at this.

What is Green Tea?

Green tea is a kind of tea that is made from the leaves of Camelia sinensis. During processing of the tea leaves, the oxidation process is kept to a minimum, helping it retain its valuable properties.

Would you believe that the first green tea was exported to Japan from India? Exchange took place in the 17th century.

Green Tea And The Heart – The Science Bit

It has been reported in newspapers and in medical journals that green tea can improve the health of blood vessels, thus reducing the chance of them getting narrowed.

This in turn can help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Atherosclerosis

On the inner aspect of blood vessels is a single layer of cells. These cells are called endothelial cells, and these have numerous functions.

Once such function of healthy endothelial cells is to prevent the development of atherosclerosis.

In fact, damage to these cells is what is the root cause for the deposition of fat in the blood vessels. Damage to endothelial cells causes them to malfunction, and this phenomenon is called endothelial dysfunction.

Green tea is believed to prevent endothelial dysfunction by protecting the endothelial cells.

In a study that assessed the health of the endothelial cells, a group of scientific researchers found that consuming green tea increased the degree to which blood flow increased in blood vessels in response to stress.

Stress was placed on the arteries using a blood pressure cuff, and the increase in blood flow was measured using an ultrasound probe over the brachial artery (which is situated in the forearm where the doctor checks the blood pressure).

This procedure is called measuring Flow Mediated Dilatation (FMD).

It has been shown that the brachial artery is similar to the coronary arteries in their behavior.

What this means that the response seen with the brachial in this test is similar to what would be seen in the coronary arteries should the test be conducted on them.

One reason why green tea is so good for you is the presence of a compound called ‘catechins’.

Catechins are powerful anti-oxidant compounds that protect the cells in the body from harmful free radicals. They also exert the benefits that have been listed below.

So What Are The Benefits Of Drinking Green Tea On The Heart

Below is a short list of what green tea can do for your heart.Green tea

  1. It can help maintain normal blood pressure
  2. It can lower cholesterol in the blood – particularly the LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides
  3. It can improve the flow of blood through blood vessels
  4. It can reduce atherosclerosis and thus prevent heart attacks, stroke and memory loss
  5. Reduces the absorption of sugar from the gut, thus helping in controlling blood sugar levels

Together, all these can help reduce heart disease significantly.

Green tea does not have a significant impact on body weight, and is useless as a weight loss supplement by itself.

Having green tea with sugar is a very unhealthy way of consuming the drink, as this can contribute to an increase in body weight!

Instead, make it a part of your healthy diet and exercise routine, and it could help you reach your weight loss goals!

Just of note, black tea does not have any benefits on the heart.

How Much Green Tea To Drink To Protect The Heart?

A study published in a scientific journal that looked at Japanese individuals consuming green tea showed that those who consume 5 cups a day had more benefit than those drinking one cup a day.

There are no specific studies looking at green tea consumption and Indians.

We believe that may 2 to 3 cups of green tea a day would bring the benefits that we have described above, though we cannot back this by scientific evidence.

The Downside Of Green Tea

Green tea consumed in large amounts everyday can be harmful. This is because of the caffeine and aluminum content in green tea.

It is not recommended for patients with heart problems or serious heart disease (unless your doctor recommends it).

Consuming green tea during pregnancy is okay, but one should not consume more than one or 2 cups a day, as the caffeine content can increase the heart rate.

The aluminum in green tea can affect the kidneys, so it must be avoided in those with kidney disease.

Green tea in large amounts can also cause iron deficiency anemia. This is because it can bind to the iron in the diet, thus reducing the amount that enters the bloodstream.

References
1. Wang, Ze-Mu, et al. “Black and green tea consumption and the risk of coronary artery disease: a meta-analysis.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 93.3 (2011): 506-515.

2. Kokubo, Yoshihiro, et al. “The Impact of Green Tea and Coffee Consumption on the Reduced Risk of Stroke Incidence in Japanese Population The Japan Public Health Center-Based Study Cohort.” Stroke 44.5 (2013): 1369-1374.

3. Chacko, Sabu M., et al. “Beneficial effects of green tea: a literature review.” Chin med 5.13 (2010): 1-9.


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Dr Vivek Baliga B
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