Tea May Impair Cognitive Decline

July 12/Honolulu/PRNewswire-USNewswire -- Results of a new study found people age 65 or older who drank tea regularly had 17-37% less cognitive decline compared with people who did not drink tea. The new findings were presented at the Alzheimer's Association's International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease 2010 (ICAD 2010).

The population-based study followed more than 4,800 Americans (age greater than or equal to 65) for up to 14 years examining the relationship between consumption of tea, coffee, and change in cognitive function over time. Tea and coffee consumption were assessed using a food frequency questionnaire and cognitive performance was assessed using the Mini-Mental State Examination (3MSE). Results showed that cognitive decline was statistically significantly lower (17-37%) among regular tea drinkers, even after adjusting for confounding factors that may affect cognitive function, such as age, education, smoking status and medical history.

In this study, 25% of people reported that they drank tea daily; 43% said they drank coffee. Overall, the average annual decline in 3MSE scores was 17%, 32%, 37% and 26% lower among people who drank tea 5-10 times per year, 1-3 times per month, 1-4 times per week, and 5 or more times each week, respectively, versus non-tea drinkers. On the other hand, drinking coffee regularly showed no effect on cognitive decline, except at the very highest level of consumption which was associated with a decreased decline of 20%.

Dr. Lenore Arab, PhD, professor, Department of Medicine and Department of Biological Chemistry, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, who led the research program said, "This study suggests a potential neuroprotective effect of tea consumption against cognitive decline. This neuroprotective effect of tea is unlikely related to caffeine since coffee, which has two to three times more caffeine than tea, did not have the same effect. The effect may be related to some other component in tea, such as flavonoids or perhaps theanine, however more research is required before a link can be confirmed."

This research was supported by the Lipton Institute of Tea and conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in collaboration with the University of Washington. The Lipton Institute of Tea aims to support research that examines the mental and physical health effects of tea consumption, including hydration, heart health and cognitive performance.

"In recent years, a body of scientific evidence has shown that regular tea drinking may have an important role in health and wellness," says Douglas Balentine, PhD from the Lipton Institute of Tea and Director of Nutrition Sciences for Unilever North America. "This new study provides further support that regular tea drinking may be an important actionable change a consumer can make as part of a healthy lifestyle."

From the July 19, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition