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Have a cuppa to boost your brain health

13/02/2013 7:00:00 PM
Kimberly Gillan
Have a cuppa to boost your brain health

Drinking regular cups of tea helps keep your mind sharp, according to a US study comparing the effects of caffeinated drinks.

Experts from the University of California reviewed six studies and found that people who drank tea scored better in Alzheimer's tests than those who didn't.

One study of 1500 Singaporeans found drinking more than four cups a day reduced people's risk of memory loss by 75 percent and another suggested between one and three cups of Ceylon tea a day reduced cognitive decline by 43 percent.

The study uses Alzheimer's tests to examine the memory of participants over a 10 year period.

Women in particular were seen to benefit from tea-drinking.

The results for coffee were mixed, leading the scientists to conclude that caffeine is not the key ingredient for brain health.

Instead, they believe that plant chemicals such as theanine, may protect the brain from dementia.

Chris Hatherly, an expert on Alzheimer's told MSN NZ that tea may have benefits, however it's not the miracle protector.

"In the scheme of all the things people can do to reduce their risk of dementia, tea is one of the less definite factors," he said.

"We know there is a link but it's not as strong as the link between people who exercise regularly, people who manage to avoid depression, or people who stay socially active –– they seem to be much better ways of making dementia less likely."

Hatherly said there is no reason for people to dramatically increase their tea consumption.

"There's nothing to say don't drink tea. But we certainly wouldn't want to recommend people go out and increase their caffeine consumption because there are a whole range of negative health risks as well, such as increasing blood pressure and stroke risk."

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. It attacks the brain, causing it to shrink, which leads to damaged connections between the cells. As a result, sufferers have impaired memory, thinking and behaviour.

There are more than 321,600 Australians living with dementia.

The review was published in the Advances in Nutrition journal.

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