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November 24, 2021
There are many reasons millions of people begin each day with a cup of coffee or tea. Some do so for the energy boost provided by coffee and tea’s inherent caffeine. Others seek out antioxidant effects, added benefits like protein, or simply enjoy the taste.
A recent study published in PLOS Medicine may have found yet another reason for consumers to drink coffee and tea each day: According to researchers, drinking coffee and tea may lower one’s risk for stroke or dementia later in life (18(11): e1003830).
The study followed more than 365,000 participants from the UK Biobank, a national database of health information for residents of the British Isles. Participants were recruited between 2006 and 2010, then followed until 2020. Coffee and tea consumption was self-reported.
The researchers found those who drank more coffee and tea were significantly less likely to develop dementia or suffer from stroke later in life. Participants who drank 2-3 cups of coffee or 3-5 cups of tea per day (or a combination of 4-6 cups of the two beverages) had a 20% lower risk for stroke or dementia than those who consumed neither coffee nor tea, the data indicated. Participants who drank 2-3 cups of both coffee and tea each day showed a 32% lower stroke risk and 28% lower dementia risk than those who drank neither coffee nor tea. Coffee consumption—either on its own or along with tea—also was associated with up to a 40% lower risk of post-stroke dementia, the authors noted.
“In conclusion,” the authors wrote, “we found that drinking coffee and tea separately or in combination were associated with lower risk of stroke and dementia. Moreover, drinking coffee alone or in combination with tea was associated with lower risk of poststroke dementia. Our findings support an association between moderate coffee and tea consumption and risk of stroke and dementia.”
In many ways, coffee and tea are the original functional beverages, and have been consumed for those inherent benefits for centuries. As a result, both beverages already enjoy somewhat of a healthy halo, which has made them prime candidates for further functional add-ins.
“Tea’s worn a health halo for centuries,” noted Anuhya Bhaskara, FFP’s taste research and development (R&D) manager, in Food & Beverage Insider’s recent digital magazine, “Steeped in innovation: Coffee and tea go beyond energy.” In the same issue, Philip Caputo, marketing and consumer insights manager, Virginia Dare, noted coffee has been gaining in that department. “Especially in the last five years,” he said, “the science has been more in-depth. Because of that, we’ve gained a wider view into how people engage with coffee, how it may affect them differently and what happens when they drink more or less of it.”
This generally favorable view of coffee and tea has made them the perfect vehicles for further functional additions, whether in the form or added protein, plant-based sweeteners and creamers, CBD and more. As mentioned by John Quilter, vice president of the proactive health global portfolio, Kerry, “Consumers are more likely to accept health benefits in categories already associated with health.”
This could be especially important with coffee, which until recently was as associated with negative health outcomes as it was with positive ones. With consumers increasingly looking to food and beverage as medicine, beverages with known benefits—and adding to that list with studies like the above—should only make them more desirable as additional benefits are added in the form of probiotics, functional botanicals and more.
As consumers continue to seek food and beverage that is good for mind and body alike, look for coffee and tea to continue to lead the way in functional beverage innovation.
Editorial coordinator, Informa
After a career in sportswriting, Alex Smolokoff was on the editorial team at Informa Markets from December 2018 through spring of 2022, working on Food & Beverage Insider. In his free time, he enjoys watching his hometown Boston sports teams.
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