Drinking two cups of coffee and tea a day may cut the risk of suffering a stroke and dementia, a study suggests.
Chinese researchers followed 500,000 Britons for over a decade, monitoring their health. Volunteers were also asked about their hot drink intake.
Participants who drank two coffees and two teas daily were a third less likely to suffer a stroke, results showed. And their odds of developing dementia were 28 per cent lower.
Sticking to just coffee or tea alone also appeared to provide some benefit, even if adults only consumed one a day.
But the team, led by Dr Yuan Zhang, admitted the findings may have been down to chance, insisting the clearest link was for numerous hot drinks.
They said: ‘Our findings suggested moderate consumption of coffee/tea separately, or in combination, were associated with lower risk of stroke and dementia.’
Scientists have found that drinking a cup of coffee or tea every day may cut the risk of suffering from strokes and dementia (stock image)
The study was carried out by scientists at Tianjin Medical University and published in the journal PLoS Medicine.
Researchers selected participants who were aged between 50-74 and added to the UK Biobank between 2006 and 2010.
Volunteers — who were quizzed about their diets when they first signed up — were not followed up over the ten-year period to check if they still drank the same amount of coffee and tea.
They were also not asked whether they added milk or sugar to their drinks.
BENEFITS OF DRINKING COFFEE
Caffeine has been deemed safe for consumption in doses of up to 400 mg per day for the general population.
Studies suggest it can have a variety of health benefits, including combating liver disease and type two diabetes.
Research has even suggested it could even help people live longer.
It is the world’s most widely consumed stimulant and reports show it can boost daily energy expenditure by around five per cent.
Researchers have said combining two to four daily coffees with regular exercise would be even more effective at keeping the weight off.
A 2015 study showed just a couple of cups a day could help millions of dieters stay trim once they have achieved their desired weight.
Participants who drank coffee and tea were compared to those that did not consume the hot drinks.
Independent experts today warned the study could not prove that drinking coffee or tea staves off dementia and stroke. Instead, it merely highlights a link.
Dr Charlotte Mills, a nutritional sciences expert from Reading University, said: ‘It may be that there are other factors at work.’
But she said the findings were ‘consistent’ with other studies that have delved into the benefits of drinking coffee and tea.
Many studies have previously suggested that coffee and tea could lower the risk of dementia.
But some papers have warned that over-consumption of the popular drinks could actually raise the risk.
A study from Australia published in July found drinking more than six cups of coffee a day made people 53 per cent more likely to suffer from dementia.
It is not clear why coffee and tea may make strokes and dementia less likely.
But some experts have pointed to polyphenols in the hot drinks that are also found in blueberries and cocoa, which studies show can cut the risk of neurodegenerative conditions.
Dr Rosa Sancho, the head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK who was also not involved, said: ‘Studies like this one are not able to pinpoint cause and effect.
‘While the researchers attempted to control for other factors that could affect a person’s risk of stroke and vascular dementia, no firm conclusions can be made about whether tea or coffee cause this lower risk.
She added: ‘Participants only reported tea and coffee consumption at the beginning of the study.
‘There is no data on long-term habits, so it’s not clear how relevant the findings are to long-term brain health.’
More than 850,000 people in the UK have dementia, including one in six over-80s, which is sparked by an abnormal build-up of proteins in the brain — stopping nerve cells from functioning properly.
Some 100,000 people also have a stroke every year, which is triggered by a blockage in a blood vessel starving an area of oxygen.