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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tea, but not Coffee, Reduces Homocysteine

I stopped drinking coffee last week because I discovered research indicating coffee increased homocysteine.1 Homocysteine has been implicated in heart disease and stroke, and you don't want to increase your homocysteine! So, coffee was off my list. Turns out there are various ingredients in coffee responsible for this increase; caffeine is only part of the story. So, what about tea? Good news: for most people, tea reduces homocysteine. Researchers said, "studies overall suggest more of an inverse relation between tea intake and tHcy [total homocysteine] concentrations."2 There are some who metabolize polyphenols differently, and for them tea will increase homocysteine, but most individuals will benefit from moderate tea consumption (say, up to 5 cups per day). Tea has not, however, been shown to reduce in vivo lipid peroxidation; the oxidation of arachidonic acid produces harmful metabolic byproducts, and apparently tea does not have the capacity in vivo to combat this problem.3

  1. 2000. "Heavy coffee consumption and plasma homocysteine: a randomized controlled trial in healthy volunteers." Rob Urgert, Trinette van Vliet, Peter L Zock and Martijn B Katan. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 72, No. 5, 1107-1110, November. (Accessed Jan. 21, 2009).
  2. 2003. "Can black tea influence plasma total homocysteine concentrations?" American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 77, No. 4, 907-911, April. Jonathan M Hodgson, Valerie Burke, Lawrence J Beilin, Kevin D Croft and Ian B Puddey. (Accessed Jan. 21, 2009).
  3. 2002. "Regular Ingestion of Tea Does Not Inhibit In Vivo Lipid Peroxidation in Humans." Jonathan M. Hodgson, Kevin D. Croft, Trevor A. Mori, Valerie Burke, Lawrence J. Beilin and Ian B. Puddey. J. Nutr. 132:55-58. (Accessed Jan. 21, 2009).

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