Drinking just three cups of tea a day may protect against heart attacks and type 2 diabetes, claim researchers.
A review shows regular drinking of black tea, with or without milk, can reduce the risk of heart problems by cutting levels of bad cholesterol and blood sugar.
Experts say the benefits of tea are largely due to the flavonoid content - antioxidant ingredients that counteract cardiovascular disease.
One cup of tea provides 150-200mg of flavonoids and it is the best source of antioxidants in the nation's diet. In terms of the delivery of antioxidants, two cups of tea is equivalent to five portions of vegetables.
A review in the journal Nutrition Bulletin found drinking three or more cups of black tea a day protects against heart disease and two or more cups a day may protect against type 2 diabetes.
In addition, a 12-week study in 87 volunteers found that drinking three cups of tea a day produced a significant improvement in various cardiovascular risk factors.
Almost 80 per cent of Britons are tea drinkers and 165million cups are drunk every day.
Overall, flavonoids found in tea are thought to control inflammation, reduce excess blood clotting, promote blood vessel function and limit furring up of the arteries.
Nutritionist Dr Carrie Ruxton, co-author of the latest review and a member of the industry-backed Tea Advisory Panel (TAP), said: 'There is far more to the nation's favourite drink than we realise.
'With its antioxidant flavonoids, black tea packs a powerful punch with many health benefits particularly for the heart. And recent studies show that the flavonoids work their magic whether or not we choose to add milk.'
Dr Tim Bond also from TAP, added: 'Black tea flavonoids are thought to be the compounds responsible for the protective effects of black tea on health.
'Chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes are associated with inflammatory processes and the presence of excessive pro-oxidant free radicals in the body.
'The proven antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of black tea flavonoids may therefore be responsible for the positive health effects of black tea.'
© Daily Mail, London