(NaturalNews) Older adults who drink tea regularly experience significantly less cognitive decline than adults of the same age who do not drink tea, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of California-Los Angeles and the University of Washington and presented at the Alzheimer's Association's International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease 2010.
"In recent years, a body of scientific evidence has shown that regular tea drinking may have an important role in health and wellness," says Douglas Balentine of the Lipton Institute of Tea, which funded the study. "This new study provides further support that regular tea drinking may be an important actionable change a consumer can make as part of a healthy lifestyle."
The researchers followed more 4,800 U.S. residents over the age of 64 for up to 14 years, regularly assessing tea consumption and coffee consumption using food frequency questionnaires and assessing cognitive performance with the Mini-Mental State Examination. After adjusting for potential confounding factors such as age, education, medical history and smoking status, the researchers found that tea drinking was associated with 17 to 37 percent less cognitive decline over time.
Compared with participants who never drank tea, those who drank tea only five to 10 times per year experienced 17 percent less cognitive decline. Cognitive decline was 26 percent lower in those who drank tea five or more times per week, 32 percent lower in those who drank it one to three times per month, and 37 percent lower in those who drank it one to four times per week. Coffee consumption, in contrast, had no effect on cognitive decline except among those who drank it five or more times per week; in this group, cognitive decline was decreased by 20 percent.
A full 25 percent of participants reported drinking tea daily, while 43 percent drank coffee every day.
"This study suggests a potential neuroprotective effect of tea consumption against cognitive decline," lead researcher Lenore Arab said. "This neuroprotective effect of tea is unlikely related to caffeine since coffee, which has two to three times more caffeine than tea, did not have the same effect."