Just ‘a few cups of tea’ daily could lower blood pressure

Dr Chris Steele shares diet tips on reducing blood pressure

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Having high blood pressure, or hypertension, is a fairly common condition that can have serious consequences. If left untreated it can lead to medical emergencies such as heart attacks and strokes. This is because it puts extra strain on the organs such as the heart and brain.

It is widely known that diet is one factor that can have an impact on blood pressure.

Specifically consuming too much salt significantly raises blood pressure as it makes the body hold on to water, putting extra pressure on the blood vessels.

Therefore, making changes to your diet can lower your risk or lessen the side effects of hypertension.

A new study, though, has suggested this could be as simple as drinking regular cups of tea.

The paper, published in Advances in Nutrition, analysed 157 existing trials and 15 studies on the impact of flavan-3-ols on the body.

It found that consuming 400–600 milligrams per day (mg/d) was the optimal amount.

The study said: “Further, increasing consumption of dietary flavan-3-ols can help improve blood pressure, cholesterol concentrations, and blood sugar.

“Strength of evidence was strongest for some biomarkers (i.e., systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and insulin/glucose dynamics).

“It should be noted that this is a food-based guideline and not a recommendation for flavan-3-ol supplements.”

The study recommended the following as good sources of flavan-3-ols:

  • Tea
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Cocoa.

One cup of tea contains approximately 160mg of flavan-3-ol, meaning three cups would be enough to meet the advised daily intake.

The findings were welcomed by experts at the Tea Advisory Panel (TAP).

Dietitian and TAP member, Doctor Carrie Ruxton, commented: “This is the first time in years that a so-called ‘non-nutrient’ is being recommended.

“What’s more, the recommendation has the goal of actually improving our health as opposed to simply keeping deficiency at bay, with the best part being that we can achieve this target simply by enjoying a few cups of tea.”

Backed by other research

Chemist, researcher and TAP member, Dr Tim Bond, explained: “According to a study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, flavonoids improve the performance of blood vessels – called ‘endothelial function’ – which helps to control blood pressure.

“By this action, flavonoid-rich foods such as tea, berries and apples can help to support cardiovascular health.

“Tea, with its rich flavonoid content, is therefore an important part of an optimal diet, particularly for heart health. It also provides healthy hydration.”

And another study, published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research in 2008, explored the antioxidant, anticancer, heart protective, antibacterial, antiviral, and brain protective qualities of the polyphenol subclass.

Dr Bond added: “People can sometimes overlook the true power of polyphenols such as flavan-3-ols by describing them, perhaps too simplistically, as ‘antioxidants’.

“However, mounting research continues to show the benefits of consuming natural flavan-3-ols when it comes to reducing our risk of diet-related diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.”

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