Regular Tea Consumption Slows Cognitive Decline

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Chinese TeaA large longitudinal study suggested that regular tea consumption may slow the rate of cognitive decline in cognitively normal older adults.  When compared with non-tea drinkers, tea drinkers have a lower annual rate of cognitive decline compared with non-tea-drinkers, ranging from 17% to 37%.

The Cardiovascular health Study evaluated the relationship between tea and coffee consumption and change in cognitive function in 4809 men and women aged 65 years and older.

Tea and coffee consumptions were evaluated using a food frequency questionnaire while the cognitive performance was assessed using the 100-point Mini-Mental State Examination (3MSE).

Participants who drank tea 5 to 10 times per year, 1 to 3 times per month, 1 to 4 times per week, or 5 or more times per week had average annual rates of cognitive decline that were 17%, 32%, 37%, and 26% lower, respectively, than those of non-tea-drinkers.

In contrast, only the highest level of coffee consumption was associated with a significantly reduced cognitive decline (20%) in 3MSE and the effect was present for caffeinated as well as decaffeinated coffee consumption.  The coffee effect on cognitive decline is lower than that of the tea.

Since coffee contains 2 to 3 times more caffeine than tea, the study findings suggested the protective effect was unlikely to be related to caffeine.  The exact mechanism of this protective effect, however, remains unclear.

Source: Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease 2010: Abstract O1-06-05, Abstract O1-01-06. Presented July 11, 2010

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