Drinking a cup of tea or eating a handful of berries a day may protect against heart disease by slashing inflammation
- According to a study of nearly 53,000 people over 23 years
- Tea and berries contain antioxidants called flavonoids that lower inflammation
- Reduces the risk of stroke, coronary heart disease and peripheral artery disease
Drinking a cup of tea or eating a handful of berries a day may protect against heart disease, research suggests.
A study of nearly 53,000 people over 23 years found people who include tea and blueberries in their daily diets are less likely to suffer from conditions such as stroke.
Scientists believe this is due to them being rich in antioxidants that are thought to be anti-inflammatory.
Drinking a cup of tea a day may protect against heart disease, research suggests (stock)
In one of the largest trials of its kind, researchers from the University of Western Australia analysed participants of the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health Study.
When the study began in the 1990s, the participants completed a questionnaire about their diets.
Their health was then tracked over two decades, during which time around 12,000 developed a heart condition.
But the researchers found those who ate 500mg of the antioxidants flavonoids a day were less likely to develop coronary heart disease (CHD).
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This occurs when the arteries narrow, causing less blood and oxygen to reach the heart.
A high intake of flavonoids also reduced their risk of peripheral artery disease – the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries that restricts blood supply to the leg muscles – and stroke.
WHAT IS CORONARY HEART DISEASE?
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a major cause of death both in the UK and worldwide. CHD is sometimes called ischaemic heart disease.
The main symptoms of CHD are: angina (chest pain), heart attacks, heart failure.
However, not everyone has the same symptoms and some people may not have any before CHD is diagnosed.
Coronary heart disease is the term that describes what happens when your heart’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries.
Over time, the walls of your arteries can become furred up with fatty deposits. This process is known as atherosclerosis and the fatty deposits are called atheroma.
You can reduce your risk of getting CHD by making some simple lifestyle changes.
- eating a healthy, balanced diet
- being physically active
- giving up smoking
- controlling blood cholesterol and sugar levels
Co-lead author and research associate Nicola Bondonno claimed 500mg of flavonoids is ‘very easy to eat in one day’ and could come from ‘a cup of tea, a handful of blueberries, may be some broccoli’.
The results further found that for an otherwise healthy person, consuming more than 500mg of flavonoids a day did not carry much benefit.
But smokers and heavy drinkers required more flavonoids for the same effect. Men also needed to consume more flavonoid-rich foods than women.
These three groups stand to benefit the most from including flavonoids in their diets, according to the researchers.
The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in Chicago.
The scientists stress, however, a person’s overall diet is likely more important than just eating lots of flavonoid-rich foods.
They also note the study was only carried out in Danish people but add ‘these kinds of associations have been seen in other populations’.
More than 1.6 million men and around million women are living with CHD in the UK. The disease is responsible for one in four deaths in the US.
The build up of plaque in the arteries is thought to trigger inflammation, which can irritate the blood vessels.
Over the long term this inflammation can also loosen plaque and lead to blood clots.
This comes after research released earlier this month found that exposure to blue light lowers a person’s blood pressure.
After 14 healthy men were exposed to blue light for just half-an-hour, their blood pressure levels were reduced just as much as with medication, according to a study by the University of Surrey and Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf.
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