Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cholesterol Reduction - Great News for Tea Drinkers

Your chest feels tight. Then a pain begins. You feel short of breath and every movement makes it worse. You are experiencing a coronary. Thankfully you survive and start to think about what went wrong and to find ways of adjusting your lifestyle. You may even require bypass surgery or to be on drugs for the rest of your life. Cholesterol is a major factor leading to coronary thrombosis, one of the biggest killers in western society. Most people have heard about cholesterol and appreciate that it leads to heart disease. But what is cholesterol? Why is it dangerous and how can you reduce its harmful effects?
There are a number of fats in the bloodstream; two of the important ones are cholesterol and triglycerides. There are two main forms of cholesterol, HDP (high density lipoprotein) and LDP (low density lipoprotein). The HDP is sometimes referred to as good cholesterol but most of the cholesterol in your blood will be the more sinister LDP - it is this that needs reducing. High levels of LDP and triglycerides cause thickening, hardening and roughening of the normally elastic walls of the arteries. Where the walls have been roughened, blood cells tend to stick, building up to form a clot. The clot can grow and block the artery or be dislodged and block the blood flow elsewhere. In the brain, it is called a stroke, in the lungs, a pulmonary embolism and in the heart, a coronary. Some of the cholesterol in your blood comes from the food that you eat and some is produced by your liver as it processes the nutrients from your food. There is no simple solution to high cholesterol levels; in fact you could be genetically predisposed to high cholesterol.
It is thought that the caffeine in the tea interacts with the flavonoids in tea to increase the rate of calorie burning. Their findings showed a small increase in daily energy expenditure when compared to a control group. In addition, green tea seems to speed up the metabolism, including fat calorie burning, according to researchers from the University of Geneva in Switzerland. However the fairly high levels of antioxidant flavonoids in black tea are thought to protect against arterial plaques, the fatty deposits that clog arteries, by preventing fat from being deposited on artery walls.

As always with biological research, there may be other contributing factors, the Dutch team acknowledge that people who drink tea generally have a healthier lifestyle and diet. Just one or two cups per day seemed to have a marked effect. A study by the Dutch suggests that tea drinkers, particularly women, may derive some protection against the build up of cholesterol in their arteries.
The British Medical Journal has also reported a Japanese study on the benefits of green tea consumption in preventing cardiovascular disease, liver disorders and possibly cancer. The study, in the 1990s, involved over 100 men aged over 40. Tea consumption was classified as less than 3 cups, between 4 and 9 cups, and over 10 cups per day. It was found that consumption of green tea was significantly associated with lower serum concentrations of lipids and lipoproteins. The study also found that the strong association remained unaltered after age, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and relative body weight were controlled for.
Not only does it taste good, it may protect your heart, reduce your chances of cancer and help to keep your weight down, all by drinking just a few cups per day! So in short, tea drinking is a great habit to develop, especially if it is a good quality, pure organic green tea.
You should seek the assistance of a qualified physician if you require medical advice on any condition mentioned in this article. When pregnant or nursing only small amounts of green tea only and should not be regarded as medical advice in its own right.
Kevin Woodward looks after the In Nature web site at
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