The Top Heart-Healthy Reasons to Drink More Tea

As if we needed one more excuse to cozy up with a mug of matcha.

Boosting our intake of heart-healthy food options is top of most health-conscious people's minds. Our diet plays a major role in heart health, after all, and this can fall in our favor. With heart disease on the rise and impacting millions of Americans, there's never been a better time to raise awareness about foods that help fight heart disease.

One of our favorites—and perhaps one of the more surprising—ingredients with countless cardiovascular benefits is tea. To learn more about the health benefits of tea and how it can impact our hearts, we spoke to a renowned doctor. Here's what he had to say.

How Tea Benefits the Heart

Tea is one of the best sources of dietary flavonoids or natural plant compounds that have long been associated with heart health benefits. Both black and green tea contain flavonoids, but green tea has slightly higher amounts.

Heart Disease

A comprehensive observational study conducted on 101,000 adults in China over the course of nearly 22 years found that those who drank more than three cups of tea a week saw a 20 percent lower risk of cardiovascular incidents. These tea drinkers also had a 22 percent reduced risk for cardiovascular death and an overall 15 percent reduced risk for premature death. The key here is likely how tea's components offset some heart disease risk factors.

Inflammation

According to William W. Li, MD, author of Eat To Beat Disease, tea is a strong source of flavonoids that help decrease oxidative stress. Tea also reduces inflammation and improves the efficiency and function of blood vessels. These anti-inflammatory effects might reduce plaque buildup inside arteries, which is important for overall heart health.

Cholesterol

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, tea helps slow our body's decrease in HDL (the "good" cholesterol) that occurs naturally from aging. Tea can also significantly lower our risk of heart disease and stroke by reducing LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) that can build up in arteries.

Gut Health

Drinking tea can help promote gut health, too. Green or black tea flavonoids can increase beneficial bacteria and lower harmful bacteria in the gut microbiome, one of the body's key health defense systems. Maintaining a healthy gut is an integral part of improving your heart health.

Hydration

The heart struggles to function efficiently when the body is dehydrated. "Despite what you've heard about it being a diuretic (it's true), tea is hydrating," says Dr. Li. It's almost entirely water, after all. Hydration is important for your circulation and heart function, and drinking a cup of infused iced tea can provide plenty of it. Just don't forget to drink actual water, too.

Bottom Line

It may sound minor, but the built-in flavor of your favorite tea is actually key. Healthy lifestyle changes are easy to make when they're enjoyable, inviting, and readily available—and tea is all of the above. "It's almost too easy to introduce tea to your diet," says Dr. Li. When you swap out sugar-laden beverages like soda for tea—loose leaf and tea bags—you're making a doubly smart decision.

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