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01st Mar 2024

We’re not drinking enough tea to reap the benefits according to experts

Sophie Collins

Tea, flavan

Ahhh, go on…

A recent review published in the Nutrition and Food Technology Journal by the Tea Advisory Panel (TAP) has shed light on the potential health benefits of flavan-3-ols.

These are a group of compounds found in various foods, but the spotlight is on the nation’s staple beverage,  tea.

The study, entitled “Moving Beyond Nutrients – Tea Flavonoids and Human Health – is it time to consider food-based bioactive guidelines?” shows significant evidence that supports the health advantages associated with tea’s flavan-3-ols.

The results have prompted experts to call for specific dietary guidelines incorporating these compounds.

Dr. Tim Bond, an expert in tea and flavonoids and one of the study’s co-authors, highlighted the recognised positive impact of flavonoids on various health aspects such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and inflammation. 

The study suggests a potential reduction of up to 19% in the risk of developing chronic conditions like heart disease with higher flavonoid intake.

Meanwhile, Dr. Pamela Mason, another co-author and a nutritionist, underscores the importance of raising awareness about plant bioactives, and is advocating for their inclusion in dietary guidelines. 

Despite tea being part of the UK’s fluid recommendation, flavonoids remain overlooked. Flavonoids, as explained by Dr. Bond, are abundant in fruits, vegetables, and herbs, contributing to both vibrant colors and distinct flavors. 

They serve as natural protectors for plants against diseases and predators due to their antimicrobial properties. Flavan-3-ols emerge as a prominent subtype, and are attracting attention for their potential health-promoting effects. 

Tea, as well as fruits like apples, pears, and berries, stands out as a rich source of flavan-3-ols, with brewed black tea leading the pack in terms of concentration.

The review highlights the diverse health benefits associated with flavan-3-ols consumption, including the reduction of diabetes and heart disease risk, inflammation, stroke, and viral respiratory tract infections. 

However, statistics have also shown a concerning gap between recommended and actual intake levels.

Dr. Carrie Ruxton, a dietitian from TAP, emphasises the importance of consuming flavan-3-ols everyday, with a particular emphasis on tea intake. 

Despite existing guidelines recommending four cups of tea daily to reap these benefits, surveys indicate a significant shortfall in consumption.

However, drinking more than this would involve a much higher intake of caffeine – which would not be good. But you can bolster your intake by adding apples, pears, berries, chocolate, and cocoa products to your diet.