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Cup of tea lowers heart disease risk

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A new study has found that drinking black tea appears to reduce several risk factors for heart disease, potentially lowering your risk of heart attack and stroke.

In the study, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, drinking three cups of tea for 12 weeks (with no milk or sugar) led to highly significant reduction in blood sugar levels and triglycerides, which are unhealthy fats. Triglyceride levels fell by a whopping 39 percent in males and 29 percent in females.  

In addition, drinking tea led to an increase in levels of HDL cholesterol, long considered to be the ‘good’ type of cholesterol – though recent research from Harvard Medical School has called into question .

It also increased blood levels of antioxidants, which can protect blood vessels and tissue against oxidative stress and inflammation.  Black and green teas are loaded with polyphenols, antioxidants that are associated with a wide range of health benefits.

A past study also found that drinking tea can significantly reduce C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in moderate and high risk people. CRP is considered a marker for inflammation and cardiovascular disease.

According to the American Heart Association, having low CRP is associated with a low risk of developing cardiovascular disease, but the research is mixed on whether lowering CRP actually reduces cardiovascular risk.

In the CRP study, tea drinking also lowered uric acid, which has been associated with increased cardiovascular risk. Uric acid may promote low density lipoprotein oxidation and produce damaging free radicals.

The researchers recommend sipping tea without milk or sugar. Milk may reduce some of the availability of the polyphenols.

Laurie Tarkan is an award-winning health journalist whose work appears in the New York Times, among other national magazines and websites. She has authored several health books, including "Perfect Hormone Balance for Fertility." Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Laurie Tarkan is an award-winning health journalist whose work appears in the New York Times, among other national magazines and websites. She blogs about the Affordable Care Act for the WellBeeFile. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.