London - It’s drink that many of us turn to when we need a pick-me-up.
But tea does far more than just help to wake us up. Scientists say the traditional cuppa can keep the mind sharp into old age.
And the benefits of drinking as little as one to three cups a day in staving off mental decline are especially pronounced among women.
In one study, of almost 1,500 men and women in Singapore, drinking more than four cups a day cut the odds of memory failing by three-quarters.
Even just one to three cups of Ceylon tea a day had an effect, cutting the odds of cognitive decline by 43 percent.
It is thought some compounds in tea may provide protection against the poisons that ravage the brain in Alzheimer’s.
Possibilities include theanine, a plant chemical only found in tea and in mushrooms.
Experts in the US analysed several studies on the effect of caffeinated drinks on memory and mental alertness. The thousands of men and women who took part logged how often they drank tea or coffee and did a memory test that is used in the initial stages of diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease.
Up to ten years later, they resat the test and any fall in score was noted.
The brain stayed sharper in those who drank tea in all the studies that included the drink, the journal Advances in Nutrition reports.
A study which tracked 4,000 Americans for almost eight years suggested tea to be of particular benefit to women.
The University of California researchers who reviewed the studies said the weaker results for coffee mean caffeine is unlikely to be responsible for the cognitive benefits.
Britons drink 165 million cups of tea every day – making it more than twice as popular as coffee.
Jessica Smith of the Alzheimer’s Society said: “There is building evidence linking a cuppa and a reduction in cognitive decline.
“However, we are a long way from being able to say for sure a regular brew will reduce your risk of developing dementia.
“The best way to reduce your risk is to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and not smoke.” - Daily Mail