Tea is one of the most widely consumed and healthiest beverages of all—perhaps only second to plain old water. Known to provide a variety of health benefits, such as decreasing the risk of cancer and heart disease, there’s now new evidence to suggest that older individuals who regularly drink tea may significantly reduce their risk of cognitive decline.
A study from the National University of Singapore, which involved nearly 1,000 community-living Chinese adults ages 55 or older, looked at tea consumption data from 2003 to 2005. The study participants also underwent cognitive assessments every two years up until 2010.
After controlling for lifestyle factors, medical conditions, physical activities and social activities, the researchers found that regular consumption of tea — specifically the types of tea brewed from tea leaves — was linked to a 50 percent reduced risk of cognitive decline. And in those who carried the gene responsible for the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, there was an 86 percent reduction in cognitive decline.
Feng Lui, assistant professor and lead researcher of the study pointed out that the cognitive benefits come from the bioactive compounds found in tea leaves, such as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may help prevent vascular damage and neurodegeneration in the brain. Given how much of a mystery the brain still is to scientists everywhere, a lot more research is needed to gain a better understanding of these complex biological mechanisms.
This certainly isn’t the first study to suggest that tea is great for brain health. Green tea, in fact, is widely known for its cognitive benefits with previous research showing it has a particularly significant effect on working memory.
While there’s still more than we could imagine to be discovered in the field of brain science, it’s likely safe to say that drinking tea regularly (perhaps daily) is a good habit for almost anyone, young or old, who is healthy and doesn’t have any medical conditions that may conflict with certain types of tea. As mentioned previously, tea brewed from tea leaves are best — including green tea, oolong tea and black tea.
Ready to start drinking more tea for the long-term health benefits? Here are a few ways you can make it a daily habit:
- Compliment your morning cup of coffee with an additional cup of tea. Go for black or oolong tea varieties if you’re looking for higher amounts of caffeine compared to other types.
- Bring tea long with you on your commute. All you need is a reusable travel mug and a few minutes before you head off to allow your tea to steep.
- Wind down before bed with a cup of tea. Try loose leaf, herbal tea varieties that are free of caffeine to help you relax and prepare for a good night’s sleep.
- Make your own iced tea for when you need something refreshing. Hot tea is lovely, but maybe not so much when the weather is warm and you need to cool off.
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