Brewed tea (Camellia sinensis) is a major dietary source of flavonoids, in particular flavan-3-ols. Tea consumption has been suggested to be inversely associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Several biological mechanisms support the inverse relationship between tea flavonoid intake and CVD risk. Given the recent accumulating evidence from various systematic reviews regarding the role of tea as a beverage in reducing CVD risk and severity, we conducted an umbrella review to describe and critically evaluate the totality of evidence to date. We searched the PubMed, Web of Science, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and BIOSIS databases for systematic reviews published between January 1, 2010 and February 22, 2020 reporting relationships between tea (C. sinensis) consumption and CVD mortality, CVD diagnosis or incidence, CVD events, stroke events, blood pressure, endothelial function, blood lipids and triglycerides, and inflammatory markers. Herein, we describe results from 23 included systematic reviews. Consistently consuming 2 cups of unsweet tea per day offers the right levels of flavonoids to potentially decrease CVD risk and its progression. This is supported by the consistency between a recent high-quality systematic review and dose-response meta-analyses of population-based studies demonstrating beneficial effects of consumption on CVD mortality, CVD events and stroke events and medium- to high-quality systematic reviews of intervention studies that further elucidate potential benefits on both validated (i.e., SBP, DBP, total cholesterol, and LDL-cholesterol) and emerging risk biomarkers of CVD (TNF-ɑ and IL-6). On the basis of this umbrella review, the consumption of tea as a beverage did not seem to be harmful to health; therefore, the benefits of moderate consumption likely outweigh risk. Future large, clinical intervention studies will provide better mechanistic insight with the ability to confirm the outcome effects shown across observational studies. The review protocol was registered on PROSPERO (https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/PROSPERO/) as CRD42020218159.KEY MESSAGESIt is reasonable to judge that 2 cups of unsweet tea per day has the potential to decrease CVD risk and progression due to its flavonoid content.The primary side effects of tea documented in human studies are hepatotoxicity and gastrointestinal disturbances (i.e., vomiting and diarrhea) after high-dose supplemental intake.Additional clinical research is needed to fully elucidate the effects of tea flavonoids on markers of CVD, as many studies were under-powered to detect changes.[Figure: see text].
Keywords: Camellia sinensis; Tea; cardiovascular diseases; flavonoids; heart diseases.