Tea’s benefits weakened by milk

If you want the health benefits from your afternoon tea, you might want to skip the milk.

A study in the European Heart Journal suggests that the milk-and-tea combination erases the potential cardiovascular benefits of tea alone.

The study was spurred by a simple observation. Tea drinking is common in both Asia and England, but our British friends do not enjoy the reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease found in Asia. Researchers theorized that milk, which is often used in England, may be the complicating factor. Read on for more insight.

The study is described in a story by Steven Reinberg with HealthDay. The researchers looked at tea’s effects on arterial function — specifically, the ability of the arteries to relax. Here’s more from the article:

In the study, 16 healthy postmenopausal women drank either half a liter of freshly brewed black tea, black tea with 10 percent skimmed milk, or boiled water on three different occasions under similar conditions. The researchers then measured the function of the cells lining the brachial artery in the forearm, using high resolution ultrasound before and two hours after tea consumption.

[The] team found that black tea significantly improved the ability of the arteries to relax and expand. “But when we added milk, we found the biological effect of tea was completely abolished,” she said.

Additional experiments on rat aortas and rat endothelial cells — which line blood vessels — found that tea relaxed the vessels. But adding milk blunted the effect.

“If you want to drink tea for its health effects, don’t drink it with milk,” said Dr. Verena Stangl, professor of cardiology at the Charite Hospital, Universitatsmedizin-Berlin, in Germany.

(By Robyn Shelton, Orlando Sentinel, Jan 2007)
Article URL: http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/features_healthblog/2007/01/teas_benefits_w.html