Elderly adults who regularly drink green tea may stay more agile and independent than their peers over time, according to a large study of Japanese adults.
Green tea contains certain antioxidant chemicals, particularly a compound known as EGCG, that may help ward off the body-cell damage that can lead to disease, and researchers have been studying green tea’s effects on everything from cholesterol to the risk of certain cancers.
For the newest study, Japanese researchers looked at a different question: Do green-tea drinkers have any lower risk of frailty and disability as they grow old?
Following nearly 14,000 adults age 65 and older, they found that people who drank the most green tea were the least likely to develop “functional disability” over the next three years – meaning problems with daily activities such as going to the store, housework, or basic needs like dressing and bathing.
Specifically, almost 13 percent of adults who drank less than a cup of green tea per day became functionally disabled, compared with just over 7 percent of people who drank at least five cups per day.
Also, green tea itself was tied to a lower disability risk, according to the researchers, led by Yasutake Tomata of Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine. People who drank at least five cups a day were one-third less likely to develop disabilities than those who had less than a cup a day. And people who averaged three or four cups a day had a 25 percent lower risk.
While all of these findings show green tea is beneficial with aging, Tomata’s team writes, definitive proof can come only from clinical trials testing the effects of green tea, or green tea extracts, on disability risk.