Health & Fitness

Can tea improve your blood pressure?

Health

THE CLAIM: Green tea can help lower blood pressure.

THE FACTS: Few foods have a reputation for soothing stress quite like a hot cup of tea.

Green tea, in particular, has been linked to reduced stress and anxiety, and it contains compounds that are said to relax blood vessels.

But when scientists have looked at whether it lowers blood pressure, even by a little, the evidence is fairly weak. Some small studies have found that a few cups a day can shave some points from blood pressure levels, but others have found that it provides no help at all, and may even be counterproductive.

Still, the news is not all bad for tea drinkers. In a recent randomized study financed in part by the Department of Agriculture, scientists at Tufts University recruited 65 men and women with modestly high blood pressure who were not taking medication. Some were randomly assigned to drink a cup of hibiscus tea three times a day, while others received a tea-flavored placebo.

After six weeks, the tea group saw a respectable drop in systolic pressure—the top number in the reading—compared with the placebo group, suggesting that the tea made a small impact.

Of course, replication is the cornerstone of good science, and one study is nothing to base conclusions on. Experts say more study is needed.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Green tea doesn't seem to have much effect on blood pressure. Hibiscus tea may have potential.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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