Did you know that tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world after water? Over the years, many studies have been conducted on the beneficial properties of tea leaves. Scientists have been able to identify benefits directly linked to its consumption, most notably as a way to help prevent cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.
Most studies concentrated on the effects of tea alone, without the addition of milk, lemon, honey or sugar. A small German study now suggests that combining milk with tea destroys its ability to protect against cardiovascular diseases.
The German researchers asked 16 women in their fifties to drink, on three different occasions, black tea, tea with milk and boiled water. Using a high frequency ultrasound, they measured the capacity of an artery in the forearm to dilate two hours before and two hours after drinking tea. They noticed that black tea significantly improved the artery’s ability to relax to the rhythm of the blood flow. This effect did not occur when the women drank tea with milk or boiled water alone.
The researchers suggest that the natural antioxidants catechins found in tea help dilate arteries by prompting the release of nitric oxide. The relaxing and dilating effect nitric oxide has on arteries is already being exploited through drugs like nitroglycerin to relieve angina attacks, and those for erectile dysfunction. Milk proteins called caseins seem to diminish the quantity of catechins in tea leaves, preventing us from reaping their full health benefits.
The results of this study do not prove that milk counters all the beneficial effects of tea, but it does prove however that tea has a positive effect on our health. We should not keep ourselves from drinking it even if we add a little milk. After all, tea does contain over 200 active substances!
Here’s a cuppa to your health!