It’s about that time of year again, fall is in the air. Sweaters are coming out and so are fall boots. Pumpkin spice lattes are the new norm when you go to Starbucks and it may soon be time to dust off your down comforter. The chilly weather brings an array of hot foods and beverages that are the most fun to consume from September-February. Tea is one of these wonderful beverages. Tea is like coffee, in my opinion, one of those versatile drinks that can be enjoyed iced or hot, an all-year-round kind of thing. Tea can be served in many ways, some like black tea straight up and bitter, others prefer something sweeter and lighter like a nice Jasmine Green. Luckily, for drinkers of the world’s second most popular beverage, there is a wide variety of choices, when it comes to what kind of tea to drink and what can go into it; but, one of the more popular additions to tea beverages is milk, and adding milk to tea negates health benefits of tea.
A study in Europe finds that putting milk in black tea reverses the antioxidant effects that tea has for consumers. According to the study, which was carried out in Germany, black tea improves the ability of the arteries to relax and expand and keep blood pressure at a healthy level. The researchers tested the effects of tea on 16 adults and on rat tissue as well. It is said that upwards of 90% of tea drinkers in the UK choose to add milk to their tea.
The study then went on to find that casein, a protein in milk, went on to alter this positive effect. Catechins, a molecule found in tea, helps dilate the blood vessels by producing nitric oxide. The casein in milk prevented this by reducing the catechins found in tea. A senior researcher for the study went on to say that they have found a possible explanation for why citizens of the UK do not experience the benefits of tea on the risk of heart disease. A cardiac nurse for the British Heart Foundation counteracts the study by acknowledging that the study’s small participant pool may not measure the impact of adding milk to one’s tea. The nurse also stresses the importance of a healthy lifestyle that includes a well balanced diet, exercise, and lack of smoking.
Numerous studies have been done on tea, and the benefits of drinking it clearly outweigh the premature negative impact of adding milk to it. Unfortunately, it was also found that dairy alternatives, like soy, provide the same altered effect on a tea’s antioxidants when milk is added to it. While adding milk to tea may reduce some of the positive effects that tea provides, it is still a wonderful alternative to sugary sodas or juices.