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Tea and health: preventive and therapeutic usefulness in the elderly?

Bolling, Bradley W; Chen, Chung-Yen Oliver; Blumberg, Jeffrey B

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: January 2009 - Volume 12 - Issue 1 - p 42–48
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e32831b9c48
Ageing: biology and nutrition: Edited by Ronni Chernoff and Paolo M. Suter

Purpose of review To update the growing literature suggesting that tea and its constituent flavonoids are inversely related to the risk of chronic diseases common among the elderly.

Recent findings Results are provided from recent observational studies and clinical trials on the relationship of tea and tea catechins to body weight control and energy metabolism, impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes, cardiovascular disease, bone mineral density, cognitive function and neurodegenerative disease, and cancer. The evidence for the efficacy and potency of tea and tea extracts in benefiting these outcomes ranges from compelling for cardiovascular disease to equivocal at best for some forms of cancer.

Summary Although randomized clinical trials of tea have generally been of short duration and with small sample sizes, together with experimental and epidemiological studies, the totality of the data suggests a role for tea in health promotion as a beverage absent in calories and rich in phytochemicals. Further research is warranted on the putative benefits of tea and the potential for synergy among its constituent flavonoids, L-theanine, and caffeine.

Antioxidants Research Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Correspondence to Jeffrey B. Blumberg, PhD, FACN, CNS, Antioxidants Research Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, 711 Washington Street, Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111, USA Tel: +1 617 556 3334; fax: +1 617 556 3344; e-mail: jeffrey.blumberg@tufts.edu

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.