Daily cup of green tea helps prevent heart disease

Mumbai: Drinking green tea every day may help prevent heart disease, according to a study conducted by a team of researchers in Greece. Green tea is already known to have anti-cancer properties and now it has been shown to prevent cardio-vascular diseases, the study stated, which has been published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation.

Green tea improves blood flow and the ability of arteries to relax, said Charalambos Vlachopoulos, a cardiologist at the Athens Medical School in Greece who worked on the study.

Green tea consumption is less than black tea in the West but is extremely popular in China. Although studies have shown that black tea also has benefits for cardiovascular health, the Greek team believes that green tea might be even better because it had higher quantities of beneficial compounds called flavonoids, which protect against cell damage.

Flavonoids are found in most plants. The most important dietary sources are fruits, tea, cocoa, soybean and even red wine. Green and black tea contains about 25 per cent flavonoids. Other important sources of flavonoids are apple (quercetin), citrus fruits (rutin and hesperidin), NN"A couple of cups a day would probably be a good dose for people," Vlachopoulos said. "This is the first study to show these effects for green tea."

The research team gave volunteers green tea, caffeine or hot water on three different occasions and then measured the blood flow in the artery of the upper arm. After 30 minutes, the effects were evident, showing an almost immediate benefit among people who had drunk green tea, said Vlachopoulos. The flavonoids in green tea relax the endothelium cells, a thin layer on the inside of the blood vessels, which help relax arteries and ease blood flow.

Heart disease is the world's leading cause of death. It is caused by fatty deposits that harden and block arteries, high blood pressure which damages blood vessels, and other factors.While the researchers confirmed the short-term benefit, Vlachopolous said the team's not-yet-published studies suggest the protection is long lasting.