Drinking coffee or tea in moderation reduces the risk of developing heart disease, and both high and moderate tea drinking reduces the risk of dying from the condition, according to a large-scale study from Dutch researchers.
The study, led by physicians and researchers at the University Medical Center Utrecht, examined data on coffee and tea consumption from 37,514 residents of The Netherlands who were followed for 13 years.
It found that people who had two to four cups a day of coffee had a 20 percent lower risk of heart disease compared to those drinking less than two or more than four cups a day. Moderate coffee intake also slightly -- but not significantly -- reduced the risk of death from heart disease and all causes.
Tea's performance was stronger on both counts. Drinking three to six cups of tea a day was associated with a 45 percent reduced risk of death from heart disease, compared to drinking less than one cup a day, and drinking more than six cups of tea a day was associated with a 36 percent lower risk of getting heart disease in the first place.
The apparent protective effects may be linked to antioxidants and other plant chemicals in the beverages, but how they work is unclear, according to researchers.
No effect of coffee or tea consumption on the risk of stroke was seen in the study.
Study authors found, however, that coffee and tea drinkers in The Netherlands had very different health behaviors, with more coffee drinkers smoking and having less healthy diets.
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