People who have suffered from heart attacks could live longer if they drink plenty of tea, according to new research from Israel. The antioxidants in tea are thought to be the key to prolonging life after the attack.
According to a report on BBC Online, Israeli researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston discovered that former heart attack sufferers who drank more than 14 cups of tea a day had a 44 per cent lower death rate than non-tea drinkers.
A similar effect was seen for moderate tea drinkers - those who consumed less than 15 cups a week - who had a 28 per cent lower rate of dying over the same period, according to the study, published in the journal Circulation.
Dr Kenneth Mukamal and his team examined 1,900 people, mainly in their 60s, who had suffered a heart attack, according to the BBC report. They were interviewed on average four days after their attack and asked how much tea they consumed.
The researchers categorised 1,019 of them as non-tea drinkers, while 615 were moderate drinkers and 266 were considered heavy drinkers.
The patients were followed up almost four years later, by which time 313 had died, mainly from heart disease. The researchers found that the less tea the patients drank the more likely they were to have died during the period.
"What was surprising was the magnitude of the association," said Mukamal. "The heaviest tea drinkers had a significantly lower mortality rate than non-tea drinkers. The greatest benefits of tea consumption have been found among patients who already have cardiovascular disease."
Mukamal said that it was the antioxidants known as flavonoids which were the most likely candidates for protecting the former heart attack sufferers. Flavanoids are found in both black and green tea and are also in certain fruit and vegetables, including apples, onions and broccoli.