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New insights into black tea ingredients involved in protection against cardiovascular disease

Posted date:
31st Mar '09
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According to a new study, black tea is as potent as green tea in promoting beneficial effects in the cardiovascular system.1

Commenting on the study, independent nutritionist, Dr Carrie Ruxton from the Tea Advisory Panel notes:” Drinking tea has been linked with beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system, including slowing the progression of atherosclerosis. However, many studies showing these effects originate in East Asia where green tea is the main type of tea consumed. Given that black tea accounts for 75% of tea consumption worldwide, it is important to find out whether black tea is equivalent to green tea in relation to heart health.

“In this laboratory study, the effects of black and green tea on nitric oxide production and dilation of the blood vessels were compared. (Nitric oxide production is associated with relaxation and widening of the arteries which is good news for heart health.) Both types of tea stimulated production of nitric oxide and relaxation of the aorta, the large artery through which blood leaves the heart.

“When individual ingredients in the two types of tea were investigated some very interesting findings emerged. The only ingredient in green tea to cause nitric oxide production and relaxation of the arteries was epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). However, ingredients in black tea – the theaflavins and thearubigins, which are produced during black tea manufacture – were far more potent than EGCG in stimulating nitric oxide production and relaxation of the aorta.

“Cardiovascular disease remains the UK’s biggest and most silent killer so this latest study is great news for black tea drinkers and demonstrates the mechanism by which tea may contribute to heart health.  Other studies show that around 4 cups of tea a day is the optimal level to drink.”

Adding further comment regarding black tea consumption and heart health, guest advisor to TAP, Dr Sanjay Prasad from the heart and stroke charity CORDA notes in conclusion: “It should also be noted that several studies suggest that increased tea consumption is associated with reduced cardiovascular disease, including atherosclerosis and vascular event2. Increased tea consumption is also associated with reduced carotid plaque, so suggesting a protective effect of drinking three or more cups a day on carotid atherosclerosis3. Further work is required to validate these findings.”

The Tea Advisory Panel: The Tea Advisory Panel is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from the UK TEA COUNCIL, the trade association for the UK tea industry. For further information please call 0207 7058989.


Notes to editors:

1. For more information please contact:

Julia Riddle at Julia.riddle@nexuspr.com or 020 7052 8855 / 07985472535

Nicky Smith at nicky.smith@nexuspr.com or 0207 808 9750 / 07867513361

2. CORDA was founded in 1976 to support clinical research into the prevention of heart disease and stroke using non-surgical methods.  They have provided vital funding for the development of ultrasound and other non-invasive techniques used by the researchers at the Institute of Child Health to evaluate cardiovascular disease in the young.  In fact, CORDA funded the world’s first cardiovascular magnetic resonance scanner at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London.  Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) does not involve harmful X-rays.  It provides the most powerful pictures of the body without surgery.  As a result CORDA has enabled major medical advances in the understanding of the causes and development of heart disease and stroke. To find out more about CORDA log on to www.corda.org.uk.


1Lorenz M, Urnan J, Engelhardt U et al. Green and black tea are equally potent stimuli of NO production and vasodilatation: new insights into tea ingredients involved. Basic Res Cardiol 2009; 104:100-110.

2Mukamal M et al. Tea consumption and mortality after acute myocardial infarction. Circulation 2002;105:2476-2481; Yockum L et al. Dietary flavonoid intake and risk of cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women. Am J Epidemiol 1999;149:943-9.

3Debette et al. Tea consumption is inversely associated with carotid plaques in women. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology 2008;28:353-9; Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. When plaque builds up in the arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis


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