By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
A new study suggests that taking tea daily could help in lowering blood pressure.
The study shows that people who drank three cups of black tea a day were able to lower their blood pressure. This was seen when compared to those who drank a placebo similar in taste and caffeine content. Those who drank the tea saw a slight drop in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure over six months.
Experts however warned that drinking tea is not a substitute for blood pressure-lowering medication, but researchers said the findings show tea could still provide a benefit.
Researchers note that although the study cannot identify specific components of the tea that might lead to a drop in blood pressure, past studies have shown flavonoids, compounds found in many plants such as tea, are good for heart health.
“The message really isn't for an individual to go out and drink a lot of tea,” said Jonathan Hodgson, the study's lead author and a researcher from the University of Western Australia. He said, instead, the drop is like a bonus. The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, randomly assigned 95 Australians with normal blood pressure to two groups.
One group drank black tea and another drank a beverage similar in taste and caffeine content. Before the study started, the participants' blood pressure throughout the day was about 121/72 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).
Blood pressure readings less than 120/80 mm Hg are considered normal. High blood pressure is defined as a reading of 140/90 or above. People with a reading between the two are said to have “pre-hypertension.”
Each group drank their assigned beverages three times per day for six months. After the six months the tea drinkers' systolic blood pressure - the top number - fell 2 mm Hg, and their diastolic blood pressure also fell about 2 mm Hg. While a drop in blood pressure is generally good, a 2 mm Hg drop is not significant enough to bring a person with high blood pressure out of the danger zone warn researchers.
“Those are small changes and are nothing like what you would see if you took a blood pressure lowering medication,” said Dr. Joseph Vita, who has studied flavonoids at the Boston University School of Medicine and was not involved with the study.