Black tea and apples cut risk of heart attack

A DIET that includes plenty of tea, apples and onions will protect against heart disease and reduce the chances of a first heart attack, writes Liz Hunt.

Researchers found people who drank more than four cups of black Indian tea a day cut the risk of heart disease by more than half. One or more apples a day reduced the risk by just under a half. Onions had a less dramatic but noticeable effect.

The foods are rich in flavonoids, natural chemicals that inhibit the build-up of fatty material in blood vessels leading to blockage and narrowing of the arteries. Flavonoids also mop up free radicals - unstable 'poisonous' molecules - that damage the lining of blood vessels.

The flavonoid intake of 805 elderly Dutch men over five years was investigated, and the main source of flavonoids found to come from black tea (61 per cent), onions (13 per cent) and apples (10 per cent). The scientists from the National Institute of Public Health and Environment Protection in Blithoven, found that men with a high flavonoid intake were less likely to die from heart disease and suffered fewer heart attacks.

According to the report in the Lancet, a high flavoid intake may be related to a healthy lifestyle and a diet rich in vegetables and fruit but low in fat. But when the data was adjusted for other factors, the link between heart disease and high intake remained strong.

Almost one-third of deaths from stroke could be avoided if GPs were better at following up their patients with high blood pressure, and more smokers managed to stop, an inquiry into stroke deaths by health authorities in Barnsley and Rotherham reported in the British Medical Journal has found.