In a previous article, I presented an overview of Tea and Coronary Disease. But managing cholesterol is not limited to benefits for heart health. In addition to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, peripheral and artery disease, unhealthy levels of lipids (cholesterol) are factors in lupus, diabetes, and many diseases affected by inflammation.

good cholesterol and bad cholesterol

It is essential to recognize that drinking tea is only one of the lifestyle changes you can make to manage cholesterol. But it also supports the other available “tools” that keep your blood flowing and your arteries healthy. Taking a whole-of-body approach that includes the total diet, consistent and meaningful exercise as well as good sleep need to be considered. Importantly, consuming Camellia sinensis reduces harmful cholesterol and creates a better environment for healthy cholesterol .

What is cholesterol? 

There are two kinds of cholesterol that a healthy body needs to keep in balance. One is the “bad” form – low-density lipoprotein – LDL – that is the cause of excess and dangerous plaque forming in the bloodstream. The other is the “good” form – high-density lipoprotein – HDL – that directs fats to the liver where they can be managed and kept in a healthy balance. The liver keeps a beneficial amount of cholesterol in the body and eliminates excess. Many studies demonstrate how true tea, Camellia sinensis, does this. (See studies below.)

narrowing of blood vessel wall

How do unhealthy levels of cholesterol cause disease?

When levels of bad cholesterol increase, the lipids (fats) in the bloodstream coagulate and form plaque that both hardens along the inner surface of the blood vessels and accumulates so that it narrows the path through which blood can flow. These lipids are prevented from going to the liver, where they can be safely eliminated from the body. Drinking tea and conusming other foods known to contain high levels of antioxidents helps remove this buildup of lipids and helps keep the vessel walls smooth to support blood flow and good circulation.

What is better for managing cholesterol with tea: Green Tea or Black Tea?

There is still no conclusive and reproducable study establishing a significant difference between consuming green tea or black tea relative to the way in which the catechins in each one help manage cholesterol. Both show benefits in human consumption as well as in the laboratory studies on animals. 

One of the issues we face when we compare scientific studies on tea is the difference between amount of control we have over the tea we drink vs. laboratory accurate tea concentrates. And we will always face these issues when comparing large groups of people who include tea as only one component of their total dietary and health plan. We must always remember that the quality of the tea we drink increases the potential for health benefits. 

So, whether we prefer green or black, drinking more of the freshest tea is a common sense way of managing cholesterol with tea. 

Research into Managing Cholesterol with Tea

Effect of Camellia sinensis on Fat Peroxidation and Ox-LDL in Rats.  Abdulaali Azeez A, Mohammed Mustafa E, Mahrouf Ali Shoshin O.Arch Razi Inst. 2021 Oct 31;76(4):949-955. doi: 10.22092/ari.2021.355927.1737. October 2021 Oct.PMID (Free PMC article.)

Green Tea usage was found to be advantageous in reducing Ox-LDL and lipid peroxidation in rats. These results confirm the traditionally claimed benefits of GT for protection against lipid peroxidation and atherosclerosis.

Black tea consumption and serum cholesterol concentration: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Zhao Y, Asimi S, Wu K, Zheng J, Li D. Clin Nutr. 2015 Aug;34(4):612-9. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2014.06.003. Epub 2014 Jun 13. PMID: 24972454.

Black tea consumption significantly lowered serum concentration of LDL cholesterol, especially in subjects with higher cardiovascular risk. Black tea intake did not impose obvious effect on serum concentrations of total and HDL cholesterol.

Tea intake and cardiovascular disease: an umbrella review.  Abby Keller 1Taylor C Wallace 2

Consistently consuming 2 cups of unsweet tea per day offers the right levels of flavonoids to potentially decrease CVD risk and its progression. This is supported by the consistency between a recent high-quality systematic review and dose-response meta-analyses of population-based studies demonstrating beneficial effects of consumption on CVD mortality, CVD events and stroke events and medium- to high-quality systematic reviews of intervention studies that further elucidate potential benefits on both validated (i.e., SBP, DBP, total cholesterol, and LDL-cholesterol) and emerging risk biomarkers of CVD (TNF-ɑ and IL-6). On the basis of this umbrella review, the consumption of tea as a beverage did not seem to be harmful to health; therefore, the benefits of moderate consumption likely outweigh risk.

Tea consumption and cardiovascular disease risk. Arab L, Khan F, Lam H. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Dec;98(6 Suppl):1651S-1659S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.059345. Epub 2013 Oct 30. PMID: 24172310.

We performed a search in 3 databases for meta-analyses and compared them with studies they subsumed. We performed an additional search for subsequent studies to determine whether the conclusions were consistent.

Conclusion: Thus, the strength of this evidence supports the hypothesis that tea consumption might lower the risk of stroke.