When it comes to choosing between tea or coffee, the best answer may be to opt for both.
Scientists have found that individuals who enjoy a daily cup of coffee were 20 per cent less likely to have a stroke compared to those who shunned the drink.
And those that drank at least four cups of green tea a day also benefitted from a similarly reduced stroke risk.
But as the popular beverages are thought to protect against the often fatal condition in different ways, the study suggests regularly drinking both could provide the greatest benefit.
Researchers looked at the drinking habits of almost 84,000 Japanese adults over a 13-year period.
‘This is the first large-scale study to examine the combined effects of both green tea and coffee on stroke risks,’ said lead author Dr Yoshihiro Kokubo, from Japan’s National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Centre.
‘You may make a small but positive lifestyle change to help lower the risk of stroke by adding daily green tea to your diet.’
The study, published in American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, found that the greater amounts of coffee or green tea consumed, the lower their stroke risk.
The report found that ‘combination of higher green tea and coffee consumptions contributed to the reduced risk of stroke as an interaction effect for each other.’
But even in lower quantities, green tea helped protect against the condition, with those drinking between two to three cups seeing their chance of a stroke fall by 14 per cent.
Participants in the study were 45 to 74 years old and were free from cancer and cardiovascular disease, and all the findings were adjusted to take into account age, sex and lifestyle factors like smoking, alcohol, weight, and exercise.
Green tea drinkers in the study were more likely to exercise compared to non-drinkers, while coffee drinkers tended to be younger, and were more likely to smoke and take exercise.
Although it is unclear how green tea affects stroke risks, scientists believe a compounds known as catechins may provide some protection to blood vessels.
Several chemicals in coffee are believed to provide a boost to health, including caffeine and chlorogenic acid, which researchers suggest could help cut stroke risks by lowering the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Both drinks also helped to protect from the risk of heart attacks, according to the researchers.
‘The regular action of drinking tea, coffee, largely benefits cardiovascular health because it partly keeps blood clots from forming,’ said Dr Kokubo.’
Research last year found the more coffee you drink, the less likely you are to die from a number of different ailments, including heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes and infections – but not cancer.
Researchers at the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Maryland, said they could not establish whether coffee was the cause of a lowered risk of death, but there was definitely a link.
The research, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, followed 229,000 men and 173,000 women aged between 50 and 71, between 1995 and 2008. Participants were classified according to how much coffee they drank.
There were 52,000 deaths during the period, with an ‘inverse association’ between coffee consumption and death. This means the greater the amount of coffee participants drank, the lower their risk of dying during the study.