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Coffee or Tea? Yes, Please

Common beverages may lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, cancer

Results from three large-scale studies — including one study presented last weekend at the Alzheimer’s Association 2010 International Conference in Hawaii — add to the evidence that drinking moderate amounts of coffee and tea may be good for your health.

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HEALTH medical research

Moderate amounts of coffee and tea may be good for your health. — Getty Images

More than 4,800 men and women age 65 and older who participated in a heart study funded by the National Institutes of Health were followed for up to 14 years and given a standard mental assessment test annually. The mental and memory faculties of those who regularly drank tea declined about a third less than the faculties of non-tea drinkers, researchers reported at the conference.

“We can’t attribute the effect to caffeine because we didn’t see it in coffee drinkers as well,” says Lenore Arab, professor at UCLA, and lead author of the study. (Tea has less than half the amount of caffeine of coffee.) “At the highest level of coffee drinking, the magnitude of the effect was less than with even a weak tea drinker,” she says. The study that looked at the NIH research and analyzed the coffee and tea data was funded by the Lipton Institute of Tea.

Coffee and tea help with heart disease

Researchers at the University Medical Center in Utrecht in the Netherlands followed the coffee- and tea-drinking habits of more than 37,514 Dutch people for 13 years. The findings: People who drank two to four cups of coffee a day had a 20 percent lower risk of heart disease when compared with either those who drank less than two cups a day or those who drank more than four.

Tea provides even greater benefits. Those who drank more than six cups of tea daily had a 36 percent lower risk of heart disease compared with those who drank less than one cup. And drinking three to six cups a day reduced the risk of dying from heart disease by 45 percent.

The results don’t mean, however, that people should go out and gulp cup after cup of coffee or tea, warns Yvonne T. van der Schouw, professor of chronic disease epidemiology at the University Medical Center and lead author.

Next: Does coffee help protect against cancer? >>

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