This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
Research once again shows that tea is eminently healthful. A French study found tea drinkers had a much lower risk of death from causes unrelated to the heart than people who didn’t drink the beverage. In addition, when the longevity effects of tea were compared to those of coffee, tea came out on top.
In the research presented at a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in Barcelona, scientists tabulated the coffee and tea consumption of 131,401 participants who had a low risk of cardiovascular disease. Tea was associated with decreased blood pressure, and a significant reduction was noted in those who consumed the beverage heavily.
While tea may have cut the risk of cardiovascular death marginally, the beverage cut the risk of non-cardiovascular death by an impressive 24 percent. Surprisingly, most of tea’s mortality-reducing benefit was seen in current or former smokers, but it appeared to have a neutral effect on non-smokers.
Coffee-Drinkers Versus Tea Drinkers
Several differences were noted in the profiles of coffee and tea drinkers. Coffee proved more popular with men, but tea was more popular with women. Tea drinking was also associated with a healthier lifestyle, as those who consumed the beverage were less likely to smoke and slightly more likely to be physically active.
Studies exploring the effects of tea and coffee on cardiovascular health have had conflicting results in the past, says Professor Nicolas Danchin. However, “If you have to choose between tea or coffee it’s probably better to drink tea,” he asserts.
Antioxidants in tea may be responsible for its mortality-reducing benefit, comments Danchin. “Tea drinkers also have healthier lifestyles so does tea drinking reflect a particular person profile or is it tea, per se, that improves outcomes — for me that remains an open question. Pending the answer to that question, I think that you could fairly honestly recommend tea drinking rather than coffee drinking and even rather than not drinking anything at all,” he concludes.
The recent study didn’t attempt to differentiate between the effects on mortality of various types of tea, but according to earlier research, the specific type could be important. In a 2006 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers collected data on the consumption of black, oolong and green tea in Japanese adults and then correlated the data to mortality rates. No significant mortality protection was discovered in those who drank black or oolong tea, but a reduced mortality risk for cardiovascular disease as well as all cause was seen in those who drank green tea.