A six month study by scientists at the University of Western Australia (UWA), Unilever and the National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia suggests that regular consumption of black tea may help to lower people's systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
The research, now published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, is the first of its kind to show that long term black tea consumption may have this effect.
"High blood pressure can significantly impact on people's risk of developing cardiovascular disease, so this is a very significant discovery," said Professor Jonathan Hodgson at UWA. "There is already mounting evidence that tea is good for your heart health, but this is an important discovery because it is evidence of a link between the two.”
In the study, 95 Australian participants aged between 35 and 75 were recruited to drink either three cups of black tea, or a placebo with the same flavour and caffeine content, but not derived from tea.
After the six month period, the research found that compared to the placebo, participants who drank black tea of the six month period had a lower 24-hour systolic and diastolic blood pressure of between 2 and 3mmHg.
More research is required to better understand how tea may reduce blood pressure, although earlier studies reported a potential link between tea consumption and the improved health of people’s blood vessels .
“This is a hugely exciting development for us,” said Jane Rycroft, senior nutrition and health manager at Unilever’s Research & Development laboratories.
“This is further evidence to suggest that tea and its natural ingredients can help people become healthier. While a 2-3mmHg decrease is a small change to an individual’s blood pressure, it’s tantalising to think what positive impact this could have on reducing the risk of heart disease among the general public.”
Tea is the second most consumed drink in the world, after water. Unilever is the world's largest tea company, making brands including Lipton, PG Tips and Brooke Bond. Every year, consumers in more than 130 countries drink 117 billion cups of Unilever tea.
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