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Study Shows Black Tea Could Lower Stroke Risk Flavonoid Intake Beneficial, But More Research Needed

Mon., March 25, 1996, midnight

Instead of tea and crumpets, try tea and apples - it could reduce your risk of stroke, a new European study suggests.

Long-term consumption of black tea - the kind that most Americans and Europeans drink - and of other foods containing chemicals called flavonoids was associated with a much lower risk of stroke in a study of 552 Dutch men.

Flavonoids are vitaminlike compounds that naturally occur in tea and in fruits and vegetables. They make blood cells called platelets less prone to clotting, and they also act as anti-oxidants, countering the artery-damaging potential of highly reactive free radical chemicals.

In the study, men with a high flavonoid intake had a 73 percent lower risk of stroke during 15 years of follow-up compared with men with a low intake of flavonoids, researchers reported in today’s issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, published by the American Medical Association. Forty-two of the 552 men suffered strokes.

The men in the study got about 70 percent of their flavonoids from drinking black tea. About 10 percent came from eating apples, researchers said.

While the contribution of apples was too small to measure, men who drank more than 4.7 cups of tea a day had a 69 percent reduced risk of stroke compared with men who drank less than 2.6 cups a day, said the researchers at the National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection in Bilthoven, the Netherlands.

Their study is the first to show a protective effect of flavonoid intake against stroke, said the authors, led by Dr. Sirving O. Keli.

Previous studies have linked flavonoids to protection against heart attacks, they noted.

A researcher with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Md., who was not involved in the study, said it was welldone but needs support from other research.

“Maybe it’s in the tea or maybe it’s in another food that tea drinkers consume,” said the researcher, Dr. Diane E. Bild. Also, she said, further research needs to include women and other racial groups.

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