DRINKING a cup of tea could help you lose weight – but the effects are cancelled if you add milk.
Research has found that tea contains high levels of compounds that can cut cholesterol and reduce the amount of fat absorbed into the body.
But – bad news for many – proteins in cows’ milk masks the fat-busting ability.
The compounds, theaflavins and thearubigins, prevented obesity in rats which were tested on a high-fat diet.
Scientists revealed this could be why people in Britain do not appear to benefit from the healthy effects, despite being one of the world’s main consumers.
Dr Devajit Borthakur, from the Tea Research Association in Jorhat, India, said: “When tea is taken with milk, theaflavins and thearubigins form complexes with the milk protein, which causes them to precipitate.
“It means that we don’t get the health benefit from these compounds.”
Scientists are now working on ways to boost these compounds in tea, while looking for ways to make them less prone to the neutralising effects of milk.
Another study carried out by scientists in Japan, published this month in the journal Nutrition, revealed that tea extracts increase the absorption of fat in the guy of rats being fed high-fat diets.
Black tea, which is the most commonly drunk tea in Britain, was found to boost levels of fat-fighting compounds, known as polyphenols, more so than green tea.
However, skimmed milk is believed to decrease these levels more than semi-skimmed or whole milk.
Dr Lisa Ryan, from the Functional Food Centre at Oxford Brookes University, said: “The fat content of milk seems to be buffering the antioxidants and polyphenols.
“Molecules called caseins bind to the polyphenols and lead to a decrease in their availability for the body in skimmed milk this happens more.”