Compounds known as flavanols found in tea can help the heart, the study suggests
Researchers took urine samples to monitor study participants’ intake of a class of compounds known as flavanols. In a typical British diet, the main source appears to be tea, followed by apples. Cocoa and berries also contain the compounds.
The 10 per cent of people who consumed the most flavanols tended to have blood pressure that was between 2 and 4 millimetres of mercury lower than the 10 ten per cent who ate the least, reported The Times.
Crucially, unlike most investigations into links between nutrition and health, it did not rely on the participants, some 25,000 people in Norfolk, reporting what they ate and drank.
Gunter Kuhnle, a professor of nutritional epidemiology at the University of Reading, who led the study, said: “This is the first epidemiological study of this scale to objectively investigate the association between a specific bioactive compound and health. What this study gives us is an objective finding about the association between flavanols — found in tea and some fruits — and blood pressure.
“This research confirms the results from previous dietary intervention studies and shows that the same results can be achieved with a habitual diet rich in flavanols.”
Red wine and chocolate can also contain flavanols, but Professor Kuhnle said any health benefit was probably offset by the alcohol, fat and sugar they also contain.
Ada Garcia, a senior lecturer in public health nutrition at Glasgow University, said the research, published in Scientific Reports, was “a great step forward to a better understanding of the interplay between diet and disease”.