Flavonoid-rich tea offers an alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages. The present analyses, based on 2 24-hour dietary recalls for 17,506 persons aged ≥9 years old in the 2011–2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey database (NHANES 2011–2016), explored tea consumption patterns in relation to demographics, diet quality, cardiovascular disease (CVD) biomarkers (lipids and blood pressure), and body weight. Beverage categories were unsweetened tea, other tea (herbal and presweetened tea), coffee, milk, 100% juice, water and other high-calorie (HC) and low-calorie (LC) beverages. Tea consumption (18.5% of the sample) was highest among older adults (51–70 years old), non-Hispanic Asians and Whites, and those with college education and higher incomes. The effects of age, gender, education, income, and race/ethnicity were all significant (p
< 0.001 for all). Adult tea consumers had diets with more protein, fiber, potassium, iron, and magnesium, and less added sugars and alcohol. Their diets contained fewer HC beverages and coffee but had more total and citrus fruit, more total dark green and orange vegetables, and more seafood, eggs, soy and milk. Tea consumers had higher Healthy Eating Index (HEI-2015) and higher Nutrient-Rich Foods (NRF9.3) nutrient density scores. Few children drank tea and no differences in diet quality between consumers and non-consumers were observed. Adult tea consumers had slightly higher high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and lower body mass index (BMI) values. Tea consumption was associated with higher socioeconomic status and better diets.
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