Study: Coffee And Green Tea May Decrease Stroke Risk


The following message has been brought to you by Starbucks. OK, not really, but it sure won’t hurt the nation’s largest coffee vendor any. A new report from the American Heart Association shows a correlation between regular consumption of coffee and green tea with a significantly reduced risk of stroke. Japanese researchers surveyed more than 83,000 Japanese men and women aged 45 to 74 over a 13-year period and found those who drank one cup of coffee as well as two cups of green tea daily had a 20- to 30-percent lower risk of stroke compared to those who seldom drank the beverages. Likewise, the more participants drank the two beverages, the lower their risk.

The regular action of daily drinking green tea and coffee is a benefit in preventing stroke,” said lead researcher Yoshihiro Kokubo, chief doctor in the department of preventive cardiology at the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center, in Osaka, Japan. “If you cannot readily improve your lifestyle, try to prevent stroke by drinking green tea every day.

While 52,000 participants died during the 13-year study period, researchers found an “inverse association” between coffee consumption and death. Basically, the die-hard coffee drinkers were the least likely to die, no pun intended.

Scientists have not pinpointed the particular qualities of coffee and tea that reduce stroke risk, but Kokubo believes it could be properties consistent to the two beverages that prevent blood from clotting. Plus, he said, green tea contains catechins, which produce an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory effect. Coffee also contains chemicals such as chlorogenic acid that can reduce the risk of stroke by lowering the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.


Stroke wasn’t the only condition inversely associated by coffee and tea consumption. Participants who drank at least five cups of green tea daily reduced risk of cardiovascular disease by 26 percent and intracerebral hemorrahage by 32 percent. In fact, their overall risk of death was decreased by 15 percent.

At first, data indicated that drinking a lot of coffee actually increased the risk of coronary artery disease. But upon further evaluation, researchers found that coffee drinkers that were keeling over were often smokers, as well (you’d think they would have already figured that in). Once they eliminated smoking from the equation, scientists found that drinking two or more cups of coffee daily provided similar health benefit as drinking tea.

Rather than getting a few benefits from one or the other, however, the best advice is to drink both beverages, although probably not at the same time—that would just be gross.

The study has its critics, though. Past American Heart Association president Ralph Sacco says the correlation between reduced stroke risk and coffee or tea consumption could be a coincidence.

Such association studies are still limited in [the] ability to tell whether it is some ingredients in the coffee or tea or some other behavior common to coffee and tea drinkers that is driving the protective effects,” Sacco, chairman of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, told Health Magazine. “There have been other studies, however, that have suggested some beneficial effects of coffee and tea on brain health, so the evidence is accumulating that there are some important simple dietary ways we can improve our health.

It would be pretty hard to determine one way or the other. What characteristics of those prone to consume coffee and team would also make them less likely to stroke? How would you design an experiment to test for such qualities? You could take non-coffee drinkers and make them drink coffee, but if they don’t stroke what does that really tell you? Nothing, because you don’t know if they were prone to stroke previously or not. But to identify qualities in coffee and tea that can increase health, that is a more worthwhile endeavor.