Coffee lovers and green tea enthusiasts, unite! A new study out of Japan shows that people who drink both beverages every day have a lower risk of stroke than those who drink just one or the other (or neither).
Researchers have been touting the antioxidantproperties of green tea for years, and recent studies show that your daily coffee fix boosts more than just your energy levels. But putting the two drinks together—not in the same cup, of course—may help you reap the health benefits of both.
Researchers looked at the coffee and tea consumption habits of almost 82,369 Japanese adults over 13 years and found that people who had a cup of coffee every day were 20 percent less likely to have a stroke (compared to those who didn't drink coffee at all). But that's not to say that coffee is better for you than tea. In fact, the study noted that people who drank four or more cups of green tea a day were also about 20 percent less likely to have a stroke. Since the two drinks help prevent strokes in different ways, drinking both can lower your risk of stroke more than just drinking one or the other, the study authors explained.
"This is the first large-scale study to examine the combined effects of both green tea and coffee on stroke risks," the study's lead author, Dr. Yoshihiro Kokubo of Japan's National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center, said in a statement. "You may make a small but positive lifestyle change to help lower the risk of stroke by adding daily green tea to your diet."
The study was published this week in the American Heart Association's journal, Stroke. The results took into account differences in participants' age, gender, smoking, alcohol, weight, diet, and exercise habits.
According to the National Stroke Association, a stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery in the brain, or when a blood vessel breaks, causing an interruption of blood flow to the brain. Brain cells begin to die, damaging the brain and affecting the actions—usually speech, movement, and memory—controlled by the part of the brain where the stroke has occurred.
"The regular action of drinking tea [and] coffee largely benefits cardiovascular health because it partly keeps blood clots from forming," Kokubo explained.
Green tea can have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. It also contains compounds known as catechins, which can help regulate blood pressure and improve blood flow, Kokobo told National Public Radio. And coffee has more to it than just caffeine—it also contains quinides, compounds that can help control blood sugar, which cuts your risk of stroke by reducing your risk of Type 2 diabetes. The researchers wrote that the "combination of higher green tea and coffee consumptions contributed to the reduced risk of stroke as an interaction effect for each other," The Daily Mail reported.
Given that tea and coffee are consumed regularly in many countries, the results of the study could apply to people around the world, the researchers wrote. Americans may already be drinking enough coffee and tea to get the benefits: A typical cup of coffee or tea in Japan is just 6 ounces, while a grande coffee at Starbucks is 16 ounces.