Tea and chocolate could help us beat heart disease, according to a recent review by US scientists.
Researchers at Penn State University investigated the findings from 66 published studies that had studied the impact of flavonoids in tea and/or chocolate on heart health.
Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton, lead author of the review, said: "Since tea, without milk or sugar, contains no calories, it's an ideal way to add antioxidant flavonoids to your diet without increasing your weight. Having a chocolate cookie that also contains fruit and nuts along with the tea, if consumed in moderation, can be a heart healthy snack."
Kris-Etherton stressed, "No single food will confer immunity from illness. But both tea and chocolate, which are plant foods, can be components of a healthy diet if eaten in moderation along with other flavonoid-rich plant foods, such as fruits and vegetables. It's important to include a wide variety of plant foods in your diet every day."
The study, "Evidence that the Antioxidant Flavonoids in Tea and Cocoa are Beneficial for Cardiovascular Health," was published in the January 17 issue of Lipidology.
The authors of the study noted that there is currently not enough information on which to base specific recommendations on the amount of flavonoids to eat on a daily basis to trigger positive effects. Although the studies reviewed indicate that 150 mg of flavonoids produce an immediate (acute) effect and 500 mg seem to cause a continuing (chronic) effect. The average cup of tea brewed for two minutes contains about 172 mg of flavonoids. Drinking one cup could be expected to cause an immediate (acute) effect and about 3 and a half cups could possibly produce a continuing (chronic) effect.
Guidelines for chocolate is even more difficult because commercially available chocolate varies widely in flavonoid content. Some products contain essentially no flavonoids and others contain relatively high amounts compared to other plant foods.
The information in the studies reviewed indicate that 38 grams or a little over an ounce of flavonoid-rich chocolate produces an immediate (acute) effect and 125 grams or about four and a half ounces produces a continuing (chronic) effect.
The authors warned, "Until we have a better understanding of the dose-response relationship, it is not possible to make dietary recommendations concerning the amount of flavonoids to consume on a daily basis."