New Study: Tea And Apples Are Good For The Heart

ApplesAndTea2It looks like drinking tea (black or green), or eating apples, or in some way consuming the chemical epicatechin can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other vascular-related deaths:

Dietary Epicatechin Intake And 25-y Risk Of Cardiovascular Mortality: The Zutphen Elderly Study, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2016

Objective: We investigated the associations of dietary epicatechin intake with 25-y CVD mortality in elderly Dutch men.

Design: We used data from the Zutphen Elderly Study, which was a prospective cohort study of 774 men aged 65–84 y in 1985.

Results: Mean intake of epicatechin was 15.2 ± 7.7 mg/d, and the major dietary sources were tea (51%), apples (28%), and cocoa (7%). Risk of CHD mortality was 38% lower in men in the top tertile of epicatechin intake than in men in the bottom tertile of epicatechin intake (HR: 0.62; 95% CI: 0.39, 0.98). Epicatechin intake was also significantly associated with 46% lower risk of CVD mortality in men with prevalent CVD (HR: 0.54; 95% CI: 0.31, 0.96) but not in men who were free of CVD.

Conclusions: We show, for the first time to our knowledge, that epicatechin intake is inversely related to CHD mortality in elderly men and to CVD mortality in prevalent cases of CVD.

There were three groups, or tertiles. The mean intake of epicatechin in each:
Tertile 1: 7.9 mg
Tertile 2: 14.7 mg
Tertile 3: 21.9 mg

For relativity sake, one small apple has about 9 mg epicatechin. Three cups of black tea have about 11 mg epicatechin.

So, those who ate about 22 mg of epicatechin/day had a 38% lower risk of death from heart disease compared to those who ate about 8 mg. In men who had cardiovascular disease (CVD) there was a 46% lower risk of CVD death in the highest vs. the lowest tertiles.

Other good sources of epicatechins, besides apples and tea, include blackberries, broad beans, cherries, black grapes, pears, raspberries, and chocolate. Red wine also contains epicatechins, but in light of that recent study that said, “there is strong evidence that alcohol causes cancer at seven sites in the body and probably others,” it’s probably not the best place to get it.

Epicatechin has a vasodilatory effect. It opens or dilates blood vessels and can lower blood pressure (BP). These authors also found, “in a double-blind crossover randomized control trial (RCT), we showed that pure epicatechin improved insulin resistance.” So the benefit of epicatechin may be, at least partially, through its effect on BP or insulin sensitivity.

I thought this was a good study. It was prospective, long in duration, had multiple measures of dietary assessment, and, incredibly, was able to follow-up every death in the cohort. So, why isn’t the media covering it?

3 thoughts on “New Study: Tea And Apples Are Good For The Heart

  1. Steve Parker, M.D.

    I wonder if that upper tertile of epicatechin consumers had other dietary components or healthy lifestyle attributes that distinguish them from the lower tertile.

    Nevertheless, this study is consistent with others that link green tea consumption with lower risk of heart disease, at least in Asian populations (Japanese, IIRC).



    1. Bix Post author

      Good question. As to adjustments, it said:

      “Values … were adjusted for age, physical activity, use of an antihypertensive medication, aspirin use, smoking status (never, former, or current), alcohol intake (0, .0–20, or .20 g/d), and prevalent diabetes at baseline as well as intakes for total energy, saturated fat, trans fat, n–3 fatty acids, n–6 fatty acids, dietary fiber, potassium, b-carotene, and coffee.”

      So, for instance, independent of their coffee intake, fiber intake, alcohol intake, physical activity, etc. their epichatechin intake still predicted their death from CHD and CVD. There is always something not considered, but at least they adjusted for expected confounders.


  2. Pingback: Plant-Based Diets May Offer Protection Against Diabetes | Fanatic Cook

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