Daily consumption of tea can lower the risk of dementia in elderly by up to 50 percent, a new study suggests.
According to a study conducted by the National University of Singapore (NUS), tea leaves contain bioactive compounds that can help protect the brain from vascular damage and neurodegeneration.
For the new study, the researchers involved 957 Chinese seniors aged 55 years or older. The study collected tea consumption information from the participants from 2003 to 2005, and assessed their cognitive functions every two years until 2010. It also looked at the lifestyles, social activities, physical and medical conditions of its participants.
The result showed that people who drank at least one cup of tea daily had a 61 percent lower risk of developing cognitive impairment than those who did not. And those who are predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease stand to benefit the most from regular tea consumption as it is said to reduce the risk of cognitive impairment by as much as 86 percent.
The research team also discovered that the benefits of tea are not limited to a particular type of tea. As long as the tea is brewed from tea leaves, such as green tea, black tea or oolong tea, it can help to prevent a decline in brain health.
While the study was conducted only on Chinese elderly, the results should apply to other ethnic groups, said lead researcher Feng Lei, the assistant professor from NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.
“There are no obvious differences in the way the brain ages across different races and ethnic groups,” he said.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday (Mar 16), Asst Prof Feng said findings from the study have important implications for dementia prevention.
“Despite high-quality drug trials, effective pharmacological therapy for neurocognitive disorders such as dementia remains elusive and current prevention strategies are far from satisfactory,” explained Asst Prof Feng.
“Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. The data from our study suggests that a simple and inexpensive lifestyle measure such as daily tea drinking can reduce a person’s risk of developing neurocognitive disorders in late life.”
Asst Prof Feng noted that more research is needed to find out more on the bioactive compounds in tea leaves. There are also plans to study the impact of Asian diet on cognitive health in ageing.
The findings were published in the scientific journal The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging in December 2016.