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Drink Tea to Lower Cholesterol

Updated on July 9, 2017

71 million American adults have high LDL (bad) cholesterol and only one third have it under control.

High cholesterol is insidious, it has no symptoms, yet it will leave you at twice the risk of developing heart disease, the number one killer in the United States. 1, 2

Because of the asymptomatic nature of high cholesterol, it is important for even those that appear healthy to take precautionary measures to keep their cholesterol within a healthy range to avoid future complications.

One of the most effective ways to preempt high cholesterol is to adopt a healthier diet, and a mounting body of research indicates that incorporating tea and tea extracts into your daily routine may be one small lifestyle change that you can make to lower your risk.

How Tea May Lowers Cholesterol

Tea is a rich source of polyphenols known as flavonoids, organic compounds found in the plants leaves. The predominant flavonoids in green tea are catechins, powerful antioxidants.

Catechins and other polyphenols have both been shown to lower plasma cholesterol in animal models with excess serum cholesterol.3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 While the mechanism of action for teas cholesterol lowering effects isn’t quite understood, a few theories have spawned from research involving humans and animals.

One animal study showed that green tea catechins lowered the solubility of cholesterol in micelles (micelle formation is essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and complicated lipids within the human body) thereby reducing intestinal cholesterol absorption. 10

Other animal studies show that green tea catechins reduce cholesterol content of the liver.7,11 and increase fecal excretion of total fatty acids, neutral sterols, and acidic sterols.7,8 Black tea polyphenols also increase fecal excretion of total lipids and cholesterol in rodents.9

Method

In one experiment conducted in China, 240 subjects 18 years and older with mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia were split into two groups, the treatment group, which was treated with capsules containing 75 mg of theaflavins, 150 mg of green tea catechins, and 150 mg of other tea polyphenols (all of which are found in tea and tea extracts), and a control group which was given a placebo. The participants were instructed to take one capsule each morning for 12 weeks and asked to maintain their traditional chinese diets.

Results

In the treatment group, after 12 weeks of intervention, total cholesterol decreased by 11.3% and LDL cholesterol decreased by 16.4% while HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides rose 2.3% and 2.6% respectively. During the 12 week study, no significant change in total cholesterol was observed in the placebo group.

Take Away

  • Both tea and tea extracts contain the same beneficial compounds referenced throughout the presented research/experiments. Which one is right for you depends on your taste for tea.
  • Despite promising results from these experiments in humans and non-human animals, a causal link between tea consumption and lower serum cholesterol has yet to be established.
  • One should not rely solely on tea or tea extracts as a means to control or prevent high cholesterol.
  • Remember, hypercholesterolemia is very common and asymptomatic. The national Cholesterol Education Program recommends adults get their levels checked every 5 years.

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