If you are considering trading your coffee for green tea, you are making a healthy choice.

According to the study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, frequent consumption of green tea is associated with a lower incidence of depression in the community-dwelling older population. It is now known that green tea have anti-inflammatory and anti-stress effects, and this study is one of the first to investigate the relationship between green tea and depression in the older population. This study included more than 1,000 older Japanese adult participants who are 70 years or older, and who widely consumed green tea.

Here are the study highlights (Medscape Clinical Briefs, December 2009):

• Study participants were community-dwelling adults 70 years or older in one city in Japan. Individuals with cognitive dysfunction were not included in the study.

• Participants completed a 75-item diet questionnaire, which asked about their consumption of green tea, black, or oolong tea, and coffee.

• The main outcome of the study was the relationship between green tea consumption and depressive symptoms. This result was adjusted to account for social factors, health habit, medical and psychological differences.

• The average age of the participants was 76 years, and slightly more than half of the participants were women.

• Two hundred eighty-six participants consumed less that one cup of green tea daily, whereas 284 individuals consumed two to three cups per day, and 488 participants consumed four or more cups of green tea daily.

• Higher green tea consumption was positively associated with nonsmoking status, and more social interaction with friends.

• Compared with drinking less than one cup of green tea per day, the adjusted odds ratio for mild and severe depression associated with drinking two to three cups per day was not significant. However, the same adjusted odds ratio was significant in comparing older adults who drank four or more cups of green tea daily versus those who drank less than one cup daily

• High levels of green tea intake was associated with significant reductions in the risk for depression or the use of antidepressants.

• Gender analysis did not alter the main conclusion of the study. The green tea benefits are essentially the same for men and women.

• There was less pronounced association between higher levels of consumption of black and oolong tea, and coffee as well and reduced depressive symptoms.

More recent studies also show that the abundance of L-theanine in green tea is found to have strong calming effects and can be also used to combat anxiety and stress. Stress and anxiety are common daily manifestations. Isolation and feelings of depression are common occurrences in older adults. Recognize your feelings and seek expert medical attention as needed. But as added self-care, you can give green tea a try. If you are sensitive to the caffeine in tea, try decaf. Next trip to the grocery store, notice the many choices of colorful packages of green teas. Pick one!

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