Green tea can help protect against cardiac ailments.

Cardiovascular ailments claim around 13 million lives annually around the globe and are also responsible for one-fifth of total deaths in India, according to estimates by the World Health Organisation. Cardiac ailments can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle and diet. Recent studies indicate that including green tea in the diet has benefits for the heart.

Green tea is rich in powerful antioxidants called flavonoids that help protect the heart. Also, those who are devoted to regular tea do not look at the amount of sugar used. So if you want to cut down sugar intake and reduce risk of obesity, green tea is a good substitute.

A study conducted at the Athens Medical School concluded that, among 14 subjects, those who drank green tea showed greater dilation of their heart arteries 30 minutes later than those drinking either diluted caffeine or hot water. Scientists believe that the flavonoids also help prevent inflammation in body tissue, keeping the vessels pliable. Green tea works on the lining of blood vessels, helping the cells secrete the substances needed to relax the vessels thereby increasing blood flow. These may also protect against the formation of clots, which are the primary cause of heart attacks. The researchers also measured the green-tea drinkers’ arteries two weeks after daily consumption of the beverage, and found that their vessels were more dilated than they had been at the beginning of the study.

Another study conducted on 40,530 Japanese adults found that participants who drank more than five cups of green tea a day had a 26 per cent lower risk of death from heart attack or stroke and a 16 per cent lower risk of death from all causes than people who drank one cup or less a day.

With rapid urbanisation, and even more rapidly changing lifestyles, Indians are fast succumbing to the cardiac epidemic. High stress, sedentary lifestyle, lack of physical exercise and unhealthy eating habits are all taking a toll on the health of Indians. Indians would do well to borrow a healthy habit from their Chinese counterparts: a cup of green tea.