Sophia Antipolis, France, 9 January 2007: Research published online today in the European Heart Journal1 has found that the protective effect that tea has on the cardiovascular system is totally wiped out by adding milk.
Tests on volunteers showed that black tea significantly improves the ability of the arteries to relax and expand, but adding milk completely blunts the effect. Supporting tests on rat aortas (aortic rings) and endothelial (lining) cells showed that tea relaxed the aortic rings by producing nitric oxide, which promotes dilation of blood vessels. But, again, adding milk blocked the effect.
The findings, by cardiologists and scientists from the Charit Hospital, Universittsmedizin-Berlin, Germany, are bad news for tea-drinking nations like the British, who normally add milk to their beverage. The results have led the researchers to suggest that tea drinkers who customarily add milk should consider omitting it some of the time.
Their study showed that the culprit in milk is a group of proteins called caseins, which they found interacted with the tea to decrease the concentration of catechins in the beverage. Catechins are the flavonoids in tea that mainly contribute to its protection against cardiovascular disease.
Senior researcher Dr Verena Stangl, Professor of Cardiology (Molecular Atherosclerosis) at the hospital, said: "There is a broad body of evidence from experimental and clinical studies indicating that tea exerts antioxidative, anti-inflammatory and vasodilating effects, thereby protecting against cardiovascular diseases. As worldwide tea consumption is second only to that of water, its beneficial effects represent an important public health issue. But, up to now, it's not been known whether adding milk to tea, as widely practised in the UK and some other countries, influences these protective properties. So, we decided to investigate the effects of tea, with and without milk, on endothelial function, be
Contact: ESC Press & PR Office
European Society of Cardiology