A new study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke reveals that your favorite hot drinks do more than just wake you up. Nearly 83,000 healthy Japanese adults, ages 45-65, completed detailed questionnaires for 13 years about their lifestyle and diet, including caffeinated beverage consumption. After controlling for age, smoking status, sex, and other confounding factors, researchers found that drinking green tea or coffee is associated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Consuming at least one cup of coffee each day cut participants’ risk of stroke by 20%, and people who drank a couple cups of green tea every day had their risk slashed by 14%. Among people who drank more green tea—at least four cup each day—the risk of stroke dropped by a whopping 32%.
Other studies have linked the two beverages to heart health, but the strong association with stroke prevention is new. Still, it’s not surprising: Green tea is full of polyphenols called catechins, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, says study co-author Yoshihiro Kokubo, MD, PhD, chief doctor in the department of preventive cardiology at the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center in Japan. And as for coffee? “Coffee contains chlorogenic acid and quinides, which may reduce body weight and blood glucose tolerance,” Dr. Kokubo says.
You’ve got your caffeine covered, but what else can you eat for heart health? These five foods can help:
Dark chocolate. What makes some populations so darn healthy? The answer might be partly explained by chocolate, according to research by Harvard cardiologist Norman Hollenberg, MD. He found that a population off the coast of Panama owed their crazy healthy hearts to unprocessed cocoa, which is packed with flavonols. You can get the same benefits from dark chocolate squares.
Almonds. Is there anything almonds can’t do? Nuts like almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and peanuts contain plant sterols, which can cut the quantity of cholesterol you absorb from other foods.
Sardines. Omega-3s are a heart’s best friend, and sardines are among the best fishies to get your dose. A Danish study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who consumed the most long-chain omega-3s—like those in sardines—had a 38% reduction in rates of ischemic heart disease.
Tomatoes. Love pasta sauce? You're in luck! People who consumed the most tomatoes in one recent study were much less likely to suffer a stroke than those who rarely ate them. The health perk is likely due to lycopene, which you can also find in watermelon, grapefruit, and guava.
Olive oil. If this isn’t already a kitchen staple, it's time to change that. A study of 7,600 French adults over the age of 65 found that regular users of olive oil slashed their stroke risk by 40%.
Source: Faculty of Medicine