SAN DIEGO (Reuters Health) - An after-dinner cup of tea might help counteract some of the harmful effects of a fatty meal, a preliminary report suggests.
When people consume a high-fat meal, their blood lipid levels can become elevated. This in turn can trigger the production of damaging oxygen-free radicals, which may cause blood vessels to temporarily stiffen and constrict, particularly in people who already have cardiovascular disease.
But antioxidants in tea may help mop up these free radicals, thereby keeping the blood vessels supple and promoting healthy blood flow, according to Yoshikazu Takanami, a researcher at Tokyo Medical University in Japan.
In a small study, Takanami and colleagues evaluated the effects of two high-fat meals in 10 healthy volunteers aged 21 to 38. The meals contained equal amounts of fat (79%) but during one meal participants drank black tea, while during the other they drank water.
Results showed that forearm blood flow was strongest following the meal that included the tea, suggesting that the antioxidants in tea helped to keep blood vessels functioning properly, Takanami told Reuters Health.
As further evidence of this notion, tests revealed that the antioxidant capacity of the participants' blood was greatest after they had consumed the meal that included tea, according to study findings presented here Monday at a nutrition conference organized by the American Society for Clinical Nutrition and other medical groups.
Takanami noted that in people with heart disease, a single fatty meal can be the trigger for a heart attack. And in healthy people, regular consumption of fatty meals contributes to the development of hardening of the arteries.
So finding effective ways to counteract the stress on blood vessels that can result from fat intake is important and more studies are needed, he said.