- Researchers say people who drink a moderate amount of coffee and tea per day have a lower risk of stroke and dementia.
- Experts say this is one of a number of benefits of daily consumption of coffee or tea.
- They say these beverages contain flavonoids and other ingredients that can boost health.
- They do caution, however, that too much coffee or tea can disrupt sleep patterns due to caffeine levels as well as produce other health concerns.
There’s some encouraging news coming from China this week for coffee and tea lovers.
Researchers say consuming either or both of those beverages may lower your risk of stroke and dementia.
A study released today by researchers at Tianjin Medical University says healthy individuals between the ages of 50 and 74 who drank two to three cups of coffee or three to five cups of tea per day — or a combination of four to six cups of both per day — had the lowest incidence of stroke and dementia among 365,682 study participants.
Researchers looked at people from the UK Biobank who were recruited between 2006 and 2010 and followed until 2020. Subjects self-reported their coffee and tea intake.
Those who drank the higher amounts of coffee or tea had a 32 percent lower risk of stroke and a 28 percent lower risk of dementia, compared with those who drank neither.
The study also found intake of coffee alone, or in combination with tea, was associated with lower risk of post-stroke dementia.
The health benefits of coffee and tea go beyond the obvious caffeine connection, healthcare professionals told Healthline.
“While caffeine is certainly a key common denominator, coffee and tea are both derived from plants with many, many potentially beneficial chemical compounds, including powerful antioxidants,” said Dr. Scott Kaiser, the director of Geriatric Cognitive Health for the Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
“An extensive and growing body of research demonstrates the brain health benefits of certain foods — especially those rich in antioxidants and other ‘neuroprotective’ compounds,” Kaiser told Healthline. “For example, in several studies, higher levels of flavonoid intake have been associated with a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.”
“These phytonutrients — chemicals that plants produce to keep themselves healthy — can actually reduce inflammation in our brains, protect brain cells from injury, support learning and memory, and deliver other obvious benefits for brain health,” he explained. “And as far as good sources of flavonoids, coffee and tea are on the list.”
The study’s authors say the UK Biobank reflects a healthier sample of people, relative to the general population, which could restrict the ability to generalize the associations between coffee and tea and their possible benefits.
Also, relatively few people of the sample experienced dementia or stroke, which they admit could make it difficult to extrapolate rates accurately to larger populations.
However, “our findings suggested that moderate consumption of coffee and tea, separately or in combination, were associated with lower risk of stroke and dementia,” they wrote.
Michelle Rauch, a registered dietician for the Actor’s Fund Home in Englewood, New Jersey, told Healthline that coffee has been associated with other health benefits, such as reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, certain cancers, and cirrhosis.
However, there’s also a downside.
“There are some cons to drinking coffee and tea… when done excessively,” Rauch said. “Tea and coffee contain compounds called tannins, which can interfere with iron absorption if taken in excess. These tannins can also cause staining to teeth when they build up on the enamel.”
And the caffeine and what people add to coffee and tea can be problematic, Rauch said.
“Like coffee, the caffeine in tea can also cause an issue if taken in excess leading to restlessness, shakiness, rapid heart rate, insomnia, and anxiety,” Rauch said. “The catechins in tea may interfere with some heart and blood pressure medications. The health benefits from tea and coffee may be negated if sugar, honey, cream, and other caloric or fat laden ingredients are added.”
Experts say the study confirms what seems to be the optimal amount of coffee and tea ingestion per day.
“Like anything in life, it is about balance,” Nancy Belcher, the co-founder and chief executive officer of anti-aging wellness center Winona, told Healthline. “Drinking three to five cups per day hits the sweet spot of providing health benefits without the negative side effects”
Kaiser said “the jury is still out” on this topic.
“That said, this study suggests that moderate consumption of coffee and tea, separately or in combination, may lower the risk of stroke and dementia,” he said.
“Your best bet, as always, is to consult your doctor, nutritionist, or other healthcare professional to weigh all the risks and benefits and determine what is best for you,” Kaiser added.
“Most importantly, this study reinforces the notion that it’s never too early to start thinking about our brain health. It’s encouraging to think that drinking coffee and tea — something so many of us enjoy — may help reduce our risk of developing strokes or dementia,” he said.