A diet high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meat is not enough according to a recent Japanese study researching cardiovascular risk factors. The study performed in Osaka, Japan identified that drinking coffee and green tea can reduce ones stroke risk by 20%. The analysis, taken from a baseline food survey, identified that consumption of these beverages was inversely related to risk for heart disease and stroke.

The 80,000 Japanese that enrolled in the study were aged 45 – 65 and did not have a baseline diagnosis of cardiovascular disease. Over 13 years, their daily consumption of coffee and green tea was recorded and astonishing results were found. For example, those who drank at least one cup of coffee daily had a 20% lower risk for stroke than those counterparts who did not consume any coffee, whereas, people who drank two – three cups of green tea daily had a 14% less chance of developing stroke symptoms than those who abstained from green tea consumption.

A doctor at Leeds University in the UK, Dr Victoria Berley, called the results “very interesting”. She commented that “high fibre foods and these particular beverages may have anti – inflammatory properties. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables and these beverages are all rich in polyphenols, which appear to have multiple potential actions on markers of cardiovascular risk.” Polyphenols help maintain blood pressure and aid in glucose balance and lipid metabolism. Dr Burley did caution that green tea consumption in Japan far exceeds consumption in western societies.

This study has affirmed results reported by researchers in the US and Europe supporting the inverse relationship between coffee consumption and cardiovascular risk, but has bought the data much closer to home by introducing the green tea element readily consumed by our Asian neighbours. Overall, it is encouraging data that suggests not only diet, but beverage consumption, can lower cardiovascular risk later in life.

Written by Dr Steve Marasovic – Cardiologist and Specialist General Physician
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