Natural Foods Merchandiser

Green Tea and Hamburgers?

Could it come to this: "I'd like a super-sized iced green tea with my bacon triple cheeseburger, please."

It might if marketers at the big fast-food joints are paying attention to the latest research on antioxidants, which are known to help prevent heart disease.

Researchers know that a person's blood vessels constrict after consuming a high-fat meal. A sudden narrowing of the blood vessels can set up a dangerous heart condition. Now, scientists report that drinking black tea or green tea with the meal could help keep the blood vessels open.

Cardiologists at the University of Maryland—in what some might consider a cruel experiment—convinced 30 healthy nonsmoking, nontea-drinking, adults to eat a 900-calorie fast-food meal containing 50 grams of fat. They also drank a cup of one of three beverages—iced black tea, iced green tea or a nontea iced liquid.

Using ultrasound, researchers measured blood vessel size right before the meal, and three hours after. Post-meal measurements showed the tea drinkers' vessels remained wide open.

The results of the study are very preliminary, said Mary Corretti, M.D., lead author, but "they suggest that how we eat our food and in what combinations may have a significant impact on our overall health."

Corretti also said the study lends more credibility to antioxidant research. It might also give the financial sponsor, food processing giant Unilever Best Foods, some ideas for new products.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIII/number 5/p. 8

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