How Drinking Tea Can Help Lower Your Cholesterol

Many studies have shown that tea has many health benefits next to water, tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world. Many studies have shown that tea has many health benefits, including having a positive effect on your cholesterol levels.

Different kinds of tea and tea bag
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Different Types of Tea

Tea is derived from the Camellia sinensis plant and is classified into three major categories:

  • Green tea
  • Oolong tea
  • Black tea
  • White tea
  • Herbal teas

Of these types of tea, green tea is the most well-known, since it has been used in ancient medicine to cure ailments such as bleeding and digestive disorders.

Green tea is different from other types of tea because it has undergone less processing. Since it does not undergo the extensive fermentation process like other teas, many of its antioxidants, particularly catechins, are preserved. The antioxidant activity of catechins has been known for a variety of health benefits, including cancer prevention, promotion of oral health, easing rheumatoid arthritis, and antibacterial activity. Green tea is also gaining fame for reducing cholesterol.

How Effectively Does Green Tea Reduce Cholesterol?

Most of the studies involving the cholesterol-lowering effects of green tea involve the use of green tea’s active ingredient, catechin extract, as opposed to the beverage itself. The manner in which tea lowers cholesterol is largely unknown, but it appears to:

  • Increase LDL receptor activity in the liver
  • Prevent absorption of cholesterol in the intestines
  • Lower LDL cholesterol
  • Increase HDL cholesterol
  • Lower total cholesterol

One 2003 study examined the cholesterol-lowering effect of 375 mg of catechin extract in 240 men and women with high cholesterol on a low-fat diet. Researchers found that the catechin extract lowered total cholesterol by 11.3 percent, LDL cholesterol by 16.4 percent, triglycerides by 3.5 percent, and raised HDL by 2.3 percent. The catechin extract used in this study, however, was not pure and consisted of 75 mg of theaflavins (an antioxidant found in black teas), 150 mg of green tea catechins, and 150 mg of other tea polyphenols. Therefore, only a small portion of catechin extract derived from green tea was used in this study. Additionally, this study suggests that you would need to drink massive amounts of green tea to lower cholesterol and obtain the results seen in this study.

Some studies have shown catechin extract derived from green tea to lower total and LDL cholesterol. However, most of these studies vary in the amount of catechin extract used and the condition of the participants. Despite these promising results, other studies have been unable to document the cholesterol-lowering effects of green tea.

For instance, a study published in 1998 concluded that 3.8 g of catechin extract (up to 18 cups a day of green tea) or six cups of green tea were not effective in lowering cholesterol. However, all the participants in the study were smokers. So, this result could be interpreted in two ways. First, this could suggest that smoking somehow negates the cholesterol-lowering ability of the catechins found in green tea.

Second, these results could suggest that green tea catechins are ineffective in lowering cholesterol, thus conflicting with other studies that have suggested that green tea catechins do lower cholesterol. At this point, researchers do not know the answer to the question as to whether or not green tea catechins lower cholesterol. More studies would need to be performed to further investigate this question.

In 2006, a petition was filed with the FDA for green tea beverages to carry the health claim that they reduced cardiovascular disease. However, the Food and Drug Administration denied this petition, citing that more evidence was needed in order to verify this claim.

In summary, studies out there concerning green tea and its ability to lower cholesterol are conflicting and there has not been enough research done that would allow someone to definitely say that green tea lowers cholesterol.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does green tea lower cholesterol and triglycerides?

    Green tea may help lower LDL (bad cholesterol), but it doesn’t seem to affect triglyceride levels. The benefits derive from catechins, a type of antioxidant found in tea. It isn’t clear how much tea you might need to consume in order to see the reduction in cholesterol.

  • Will drinking herbal tea lower my cholesterol?

    There's some research showing that specific types of herbal teas may lower blood lipids. The tea that has been most widely recognized to help is zedoary (Curcuma zedoaria Roscoe) herbal tea. However, studies included subjects who consumed large qualities of the tea each day for several weeks before they saw any decrease, so an occasional cup of herbal tea may not be helpful.

  • Which foods are best for lowering cholesterol?

    Oats and oat bran have a significant benefit, especially if they’re eaten consistently and over a long period. Soy products and garlic have been shown to have a small effect on total cholesterol when taken regularly. Flaxseed seems to benefit some people, but the results are mixed.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Jennifer Moll, PharmD
Jennifer Moll, MS, PharmD, is a pharmacist actively involved in educating patients about the importance of heart disease prevention.