Heart Disease and Diabetes Prevention: Coffee and Tea [video]

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Video Transcript
Toxic Waist - Coffee, tea and heart disease: cause or cure

Dr. Derrick Cutting, General Practitioner: Getting a 'caffeine fix' from a cup of coffee or tea is a daily ritual for many of us. Caffeine is a chemical that can stimulate the heart and the brain. In large quantities, it can cause palpitations and insomnia. It's also addictive, as caffeine addicts know from the withdrawal headaches they get if they abstain for awhile.

For a long time, people thought there might be a link between drinking coffee and coronary heart disease. Indeed, Scandinavian-style boiled coffee can cause a significant rise in blood cholesterol levels. When you boil coffee, it releases two fatty substances--lipids--called cafestol and kahweol. It is these fatty substances that raise your LDL cholesterol.

Fortunately for most coffee drinkers, these lipids are found mostly in boiled coffee and cafetiere coffee, not in instant coffee or the filter coffee that many people drink. That's down to the paper filter that you use. It strains out the lipids so they don't get into your mug. As for tea, research is inconclusive. One study done in a laboratory setting showed that drinking black tea improved blood flow to the heart. And there have been claims that because tea contains micronutrients--called flavonoid antioxidants--there may be benefits in the areas of allergy, viruses, and cancer, as well as cardiovascular health.

But the relevance of these claims in every-day life--outside the laboratory--remains uncertain. Now, don't worry if you live in a hard water area and get lime scale in your kettle. Studies have shown that people who drink water with increased amounts of calcium carbonate have slightly lower rates of heart disease.

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