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Photo: Nathan Dumlao

Remember the blog we did last year about coffee saving lives? Well, now, a new study has found that drinking tea — sans the milk and sugar, of course — will help you live longer and healthier as well. 

A study published in the peer-reviewed European Journal of Preventive Cardiology suggests that people who drink tea three or more times a week may live longer and suffer a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who don’t. As part of the China-PAR project, researchers in China tracked self-reported tea consumption of more than 100,00 Chinese adults with no prior history of heart attack, stroke, or cancer. 

What they found was that on average, consistent tea drinkers were diagnosed with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, or atherosclerosis, 1.41 years later and live 1.26 years longer than those who rarely drink tea, if at all. Atherosclerosis is caused by high cholesterol levels, causing plaque to form and arteries to harden and become blocked. 

The researchers found that of the over 100,000 participants, a subgroup of 14,081 people surveyed twice over eight years found a definite correlation between their cardiovascular health and how much tea they drank. Participants who drank tea regularly had a 56% lower risk of fatal heart disease and stroke and 29% decreased the risk of all-cause death. 

That pretty much makes tea a death-defying beverage! 

But what gives it such a powerful punch? 

Tea is rich in flavonoids, a natural, plant-derived antioxidant that has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve heart and vascular health. Dongfeng Gu, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and co-author of the study, said in a statement that tea’s “protective effects” affected consistent habitual tea drinkers the most. He explains, “Mechanism studies have suggested that the main bioactive compounds in tea, namely polyphenols, are not stored in the body long-term, thus, frequent tea intake over an extended period may be necessary for the cardioprotective effect.”

But which tea should we be drinking to get the most beneficial effects?

It looks like green tea is the clear winner, with researchers finding that it was linked with approximately 25% lower rates of heart disease, stroke, and death. Black tea didn’t show any really significant findings.

The take-away? Drink more tea. Green tea. Without milk or sugar, which would cancel out some of the health benefits. And if you get tired of tea, grab a cuppa joe. And don’t forget that good ol’ h20 is always the best way to go.

Drink up!